Help on the way for Black families navigating Ontario's child protection system

July 30, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

A mother is questioned by Ontario child protection workers for sending her child to school with Jamaican patties for lunch.

Children's aid workers refuse an African-Canadian father's plea to have his children temporarily placed with Black family friends -- rather than white strangers -- during a possible child abuse investigation.

Siblings in a Black family are removed over concerns about their parents' "firm" parenting style.

Kike Ojo, manager of anti-Black racism initiatives for Ontario's child protection system, has heard it all.

"Systemic anti-Black racism in our sector is real, and quite frankly, rampant," she said.

It is why Ojo and her team are hiring two "community engagement workers" to help advise and support African-Canadian families struggling to navigate Ontario's child protection system. 

Until now, families facing oppressive behaviour by children's aid societies have had nowhere in the system to turn.

Neither the provincial Child and Family Services Review Board nor the Ontario Child Advocate's office are equipped to deal with complaints about anti-Black racism, says Ojo, manager of One Vision One Voice (OVOV), a provincially funded program of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, which represents the province's 47 societies.

Launched in January 2015 after years of community pressure, OVOV is aimed at addressing the over-representation of Black children in the care of children's aid societies, a problem highlighted by the Star and most recently by Ontario's Human Rights Commission.


Read more: Help on the way for Black families navigating Ontario's child protection system