Peel CAS is pleased to be building strong working relationships with the many diverse communities in Peel Region. We are engaged in ongoing collaborations with an array of community partners, who are working with us to develop culturally sensitive service models like Saath and Akoma.
These partnerships help to equip our staff with valuable information, resources and trainings, which helps them to support our families. Through understanding their different religious and cultural backgrounds, we can provide more sensitive and appropriate assistance to families, and work together to build a better future for the children and youth we serve.
Learn more about our ongoing ethno-cultural competency work below:
Cultural Service Navigation
As the most diverse child protection agency in Ontario, at Peel CAS we want to ensure that we continue to be culturally responsive to the unique needs of families in our region. As such, Peel CAS has a Cultural Service Navigation worker who leads our collective work to combat racism and anti-black racism, taking into account matters of power, diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. This worker identifies structural inequalities and challenges the status quo and conventional norms that affect the families we work with.
This team member connects with our diverse community stakeholders such as schools, mental health agencies, health care institutions, and settlement agencies to help ensure that cultural needs of children are met. They are involved with our Saath and Akoma service models, and collaborate with equity groups to address issues of injustice and develop more inclusive practices.
Supporting Arab Families
Peel CAS is in the process of expanding its culturally responsive service models to better meet the needs of our region's diverse communities. Ma'an, which means "together" in Arabic, is a partnership between Peel CAS and Polycultural Immigrant & Community Services (PICS). The goal of the project is to create a wraparound service model to help provide culturally appropriate services to Arabic children, youth and families. Ultimately, we hope that the Ma'an project will improve our service delivery to this community and help to ensure that children and youth of Arabic background are able to remain with their families as much as possible.
So far, we have gathered information at community focus groups, interviews with Arab faith leaders, conducted an internal survey with Peel CAS and PICS staff, and an external survey with participants at an Arab Community Forum meeting. Our next step will be forming a committee to build strategies to address the gaps identified through our community outreach, and develop the wraparound service model.
The Ma'an Project, and others like it, are important components of the agency's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy. By working in partnership with our region's diverse communities, we can strengthen relationships, raise awareness, and dispel myths related to child welfare, while providing better service to the children, youth and families we work with.
Supporting Black Families - The Akoma Wraparound Program
In January 2020, Peel CAS launched the Akoma (Akan word for heart) Wraparound Program as a pilot project with Roots Community Services and the Free for All Foundation. This initiative seeks to reduce racial inequities and increase the well-being of African-Caribbean-Black-Canadian (ACB) families who are involved with the child welfare system in Peel. Developed in consultation with numerous community stakeholders, the “Akoma” service model is the result of an alliance between the Black Community Action Network (BCAN) and Peel CAS.
Participating youth and families are paired with an Akoma wraparound worker, a highly trained and experienced professional who integrates case management, counseling, community engagement, system navigation and advocacy, through a lens of anti-Black racism and anti-oppression principles. Through Akoma, families receive culturally-sensitive support and resources to meet their social, mental and economic needs.
Elements of the Akoma program include:
Peel CAS is committed to continuous improvement in its support of our region’s diverse communities. Programs like Akoma recognize the systemic barriers and oppression racialized youth and families experience, and help to address them through cultural sensitivity and community partnerships.
Supporting Indigenous Families
Peel CAS is consulting with Indigenous practitioners from the local community and across the province to assist in the development and implementation of an Indigenous strategy for the agency. As part of this strategy, we have established an Indigenous table consisting of Elders and child welfare practitioners that would provide advice and consultation in all areas of our work including, but not limited to case consultations, development, implementation and evaluation of our strategy. We are committed to the implementation of the child welfare Nine Reconciliation Commitments.
Supporting Muslim Families: Islamic Informed Practice
As part of our work engaging and collaborating with Muslim community, staff recently had the opportunity to learn more about supporting Muslim families through Islamic-informed practice. Facilitated by Taskeen Mansur, a Psychotherapist, Registered Social Worker, and founder of Ummah Support Services this training session also featured other community partners, leaders, Imams, professors and social workers who shared their expertise.
Staff learned about the fundamentals of the Islamic faith and diversity within the Muslim community in Peel. The training featured discussion about how mental health, addiction, and trauma concerns affect the Muslim community, and considered an Islamic-oriented model of service. We look forward to further partnerships and learning opportunities with Peel’s Muslim community.
Supporting Sikh Families
As Peel CAS moves forward in engaging and collaborating with our diverse communities and partners, we are pleased to share that we have been working behind the scenes with our community partners in increasing our staff’s knowledge about our Sikh community.
Members of our senior management team have visited the Ontario Khalsa Darbar, a Sikh Gurdwara in Mississauga and met with Gurpreet Singh Bal, president of the Gurdwara and member of the World Sikh Organization. We learned about the Sikh faith and how the Gurdwara is a support system for families and the community at large.
We serve a large, diverse South Asian community in Peel region, and understanding the different religious and cultural communities is critically important for our work. We greatly appreciate the generosity of our hosts to help us learn about the Sikh faith. The visit to the Gurdwara reinforced that there is a vast community of support surrounding our Sikh families, which is very helpful as we work together to build networks of support for children, youth and families.
Two tangible outcomes from these visits:
Currently, we are working to create training opportunities to help Peel CAS staff and foster caregivers better understand the Sikh religion and culture. By developing this cultural competency, we will be better equipped to support Sikh children, youth and families. We look forward to our continuing collaboration!
Supporting South Asian Families - The Saath Program
Peel CAS has collaborated with Indus Community Services to create the SAATH program. SAATH, which means “together,” aims to provide a culturally centered approach, with a focus on the unique perspectives and experiences of the South Asian community.
When Peel CAS comes in contact with a family who may benefit from SAATH, staff reach out to Indus to connect with a cultural facilitator. This facilitator has strong connections to South Asian communities and familiarity with their languages, religions, traditions, and cultural practices. Also well-versed in the specifics of the child welfare system, the facilitator can provide culturally appropriate resources and support to the family, help navigate cultural issues, and advocate for the family’s needs in cooperation with the child protection worker.
Peel CAS is pleased to be building strong working relationships with the many communities in Peel Region. SAATH and Akoma are important steps toward building trust with families of diverse cultural backgrounds to work together on building a better future for the children and youth we serve.
Supporting South East and East Asian Families
Peel CAS is working towards strengthening our relationship with the Southeast and East Asian community.
Efforts are underway to establish a service model that will address the unique needs of the Southeast and East Asian community, as well as demystify any misconceptions the community may have about Peel CAS.
This wraparound model will help our clients of Asian descent access culturally appropriate resources and services. This will support these individuals and families in achieving their goals, and navigating multiple service systems.
Engagement and Education
Peel CAS is taking steps to reach out to the Southeast and East Asian communities in Peel to help them understand our services and to build partnerships with community organizations that provide services to Asian families, children, and youth.
We are pleased to have increased engagement with Chinese community by providing Duty to Report and About Peel CAS presentations with Mandarin translation. We have also surveyed our staff about their learning needs when working with Asian families in preparation for future training opportunities.
Our plans for the near future include hosting a focus group of community partners and services providers who support children, youth and families of Southeast and East Asian descent, and conducting a community survey to learn about perceptions of Peel CAS services.
Kindred S.E.E.A (South East and East Asia) is an internal ethno-cultural committee comprised of Peel CAS staff of Southeast and East Asian descent as well as staff who connect with and appreciate Asian cultures. This committee includes members of diverse Asian backgrounds that include Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and Vietnamese. Its goal is to educate Peel CAS staff about diversity within the Asian community, and to build awareness about the similarities and differences in traditions and practices.