Akoma comes from the Akan word for heart, symbolizing endurance and understanding while representing love, unity, patience, tolerance and goodwill. Akoma launched as a pilot in January 2020 based on recommendations from a report by the Black Community Action Network (BCAN) which outlined issues facing Black children and families in Peel. The Akoma pilot grew into a full community wraparound service approach where Peel CAS, Roots Community Services, Free for All Foundation and BCAN work together to reduce racial inequalities and increase the well-being of Black Canadian families who are involved in the child welfare system in Peel.
"Through community consultations, agencies and families told us what they needed and we listened," said Sophia Brown Ramsay, Executive Director, BCAN. "In partnership with Free For All Foundation, Roots Community Services and Peel CAS, we are now collectively able to provide Afro-centric parenting support with improved access to employment, housing, education and child care while also enhancing mental health services.”
Participating youth and families are paired with an Akoma Wraparound worker, a highly trained and experienced professional who integrates case management, counselling, 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 Wraparound Service Response 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. Together we are amplifying the voices of our clients while listening and learning to ensure cultural needs are met.
Future plans include developing community-based mentorship programs to empower youth, and creating a more restorative approach to family visits. The team looks forward to growing their network of community agencies while working together to ensure the well-being of children, youth and families.
We are proud to celebrate one year of Akoma with you and share our 2020 service highlights: