ONE VISION ONE VOICE: Changing the Ontario Child Welfare System to Better Serve African Canadians

One Vision One Voice is a program led by the African Canadian community. It is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Servicess through the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies and addresses the overrepresentation and experiences of disparities faced by African Canadians after coming into contact with the child welfare system.

On September 29th, 2016, through the guidance and leadership of the African Canadian community the One Vision One Voice project launched the Practice Framework, comprised of Part I, the Research Report, and Part II, the Race Equity Practices, at a one-day Symposium.

Listening to individuals throughout Ontario share stories about their past experiences with the child welfare system was an essential part of this project. The development of the two reports was the culmination of consultations and input from over 800 individuals and community organizations. We also heard the perspectives of service providers, advocates, educators, social workers, and others who had experiences with and the child welfare system.

The 11 Race Equity Practices outlined in the Practice Framework document, are the principles which will be used by child welfare staff across the province to improve outcomes for African Canadian children and families who come into contact with the child welfare system.

Examples of how work will change for CAS agencies include:

  • Accountability to the African Canadian community through the establishment of a African Canadian Provincial Advisory Council and 11 African Canadian Local Advisory Councils working with local Children’s Aid Societies across the province.
  • Placement of African Canadian children and youth with African Canadian kin and families (racial and cultural matching)
  • Working with CAS staff (from boards to front line staff) to conduct an organizational anti-black racism needs assessment and to create individualized implementation plans to ensure the 11 Race Equity Practices can be effectively implemented.

For decades, African Canadian communities across the province have raised concerns about the overrepresentation of African Canadian children in care of Children's Aid. African Canadian parents and families have also raised concerns about how they are treated by child welfare staff and the overall system.

Issues in Ontario reflect the issues raised by African Americans throughout the United States. Compared to their White counterparts, African Canadian children are:

  • More likely to be referred to a Children's Aid Society by educators, police, and medical professionals
  • More likely to be removed from their homes
  • Less likely to be returned to their families
  • More likely to grow up in foster care without being adopted or finding another permanent home

The two key issues are:

  • Disproportionality: the over- or under-representation of certain groups (e.g., racial) in a public child welfare agency relative to the group’s proportion in the general population.
  • Disparity: when services to one segment of the community are allocated differently, such as an increased or decreased likelihood of entering or exiting the services system or care.

Who is included as an African Canadian?

The term "African Canadian" refers to all Canadians of African descent, regardless of where they were born, e.g. Canada, Jamaica, Nigeria, England, etc.

Fact Sheet: The African Canadian Population in Ontario This fact sheet provides an overview of the demographic composition of Ontario's African Canadian population.

Why talk about the experience of African Canadians in child welfare?

The experience of African Canadians in the child welfare system is not the same as that of White and other racialized children and families.

Hearing directly from the community has helped to bring to the surface the experiences of African Canadian children and families with child welfare and has helped us to understand how child welfare services need to change to better serve this community.

What will the Race Equity Practices do?

The Race Equity Practices will support the various Children's Aids Societies across Ontario to understand and better serve African Canadian children and families. It will be used to help reduce the over-representation of African Canadians in the child welfare system and ensure they have better outcomes when they do get involved with child welfare.

Race Matters in Child Welfare This infographic summarizes some of the research into racial disproportionality and disparities in the child welfare system.

Due to the diligence and advocacy of the African Canadian community, the overrepresentation of African Canadian families in the child welfare system, and the disparity and disproportionality in outcomes African Canadian families experience within the system, has become a priority

We are counting on the African Canadian community to continue to remain engaged, and continue to hold the child welfare system accountable to ensure One Vision One Voice’s Race Equity Practices are fully implement across the province.

The African Canadian community played and continue to play an invaluable role leading the One Vision One Voice work provincially.

Part 1: Research

Part 2: The Development of a Practice Framework


In the News: African Canadians and Ontario's Child Welfare System

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What are the Race Equity Practices?












Learn More

All In! Symposium, gives Ontario Black child welfare staff the first opportunity to gather collectively to discuss their unique experiences.

Feelings of isolation, feeling silenced, having qualifications constantly questioned, passed over for promotions, anti-Black statements in the workplace and in the community are just some of the themes that emerged from Black staff attending “All In!”.

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New One Vision One Voice Community Engagement Workers

Consultations with the African Canadian community found that once caught up in the system, many African Canadian families feel unsupported. To address this gap, the One Vision One Voice team has hired two Community Engagement Workers (CEWs).

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Project Group Photo
African Canadian Provincial Advisory Council (PAC)

The African Canadian Child Welfare Provincial Advisory Council (PAC) is a group made up of African Canadian community members tasked with providing recommendations and advice to the board, executive leadership and staff of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) on all child welfare matters affecting the African Canadian community in the province of Ontario.

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