Peel – Peel Children’s Aid and Black Community Action Network Peel (BCAN) have formed an alliance to lead the development of an anti-racism, community capacity-building and systems change initiative in Peel. This partnership was formally announced on January 25, 2018, at a joint kick-off event which brought together mainstream organizations and leaders of the African-Canadian community to strategize how to better support families before they come to the attention of CAS; and if they do come to the attention of CAS, how to best serve them in a way that respects their ethnic, racial and cultural diversity and meets their needs.
"We are pleased to have partnered with Peel CAS,” says BCAN Co-chair Suzanne Nurse. “Aligning with Peel CAS on this initiative allows us to strategically address anti-Black racism and collectively address issues and barriers faced by African-Canadian families in Peel."
“As a child welfare agency, Peel CAS exists to support children, youth and families,” says Peel CAS CEO Rav Bains. “We want African-Canadian families to know that we are listening and are committed to providing culturally-safe and supportive services so that they experience us differently. Partnering with BCAN is a way forward to make this happen.”
This partnership evolved from a BCAN position paper that examined the impacts of systemic racism on African-Canadian families involved with the child welfare system. Racial disproportionalities in child welfare are caused by a variety of complex factors and include various mainstream organizations, policies and practices that are deeply rooted in Canadian history, culture, politics and the economy. Based upon research and community conversations, BCAN identified nine key causal factors that contribute to racial disproportionalities: Anti-black racism, racialized poverty, family structure, immigration stress, biased decision making, agency-system factors, placement dynamics, policy impacts and lack of culturally relevant services.
In partnership, Peel CAS and BCAN will aim to build regional capacity in Peel so that African-Canadian families receive relevant, meaningful and appropriate services and supports, while promoting greater systemic equity. The initiative will include:
· Establishing a roundtable of leaders of mainstream institutions and Black community leaders to develop systems-level strategies to improve planning, coordination, and accountability of anti-racist system change initiatives as well as develop a collective strategy to improve the coordination, accessibility, and quality of services and advocacy for African-Canadian children, youth, and families.
· Coordinating a series of workshops to facilitate knowledge exchange, networking, and community engagement in issues related to child welfare.
Both organizations are looking forward to getting started on this important work.
Inset: Peel CAS and BCAN Peel sign memorandum of understanding with the shared goal that African-Canadian families receive relevant, meaningful, culturally safe and appropriate services and supports