Officials from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services held three community engagement sessions in Windsor Tuesday to get feedback on the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan.
There is $47 million in funding available over the next four years for programs in four cities, including Windsor, that help reduce disparities for black children and youth.
- Boot camp operator gives shoes to Windsor's low-income youth
- Windsor program helps newcomer youth learn to cook, make new friends
Minister Michael Coteau said the plan is to find like-minded services in Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton, then coordinate best practices and services, so they can better help the young people in the province.
"It's the first plan that's been designed specifically for black youth here in Ontario," he explained. "(This is) because of the disproportionate rates when it comes to graduation levels, over-representation in child and family services and over-representation in correctional facilities."
Programs that can get funding include mentorship, support for children staying in school and culturally focused outreach.
The minister said his goal in coming to Windsor was to better understand how different organization in the city are working for the black community.
"It gives me the ability to connect with those community groups, so we can build collectively the opportunities for black youth here in Ontario," said Coteau.
A 2011 Statistics Canada report states there are just over 5,000 black children and youth in Windsor. Equating to 5.4 per cent of the city's child and youth population.
During the first session, Laabo Afolabi, who works with a Nigerian community group in Windsor, said he plans to apply for funding to create a drop-in centre.
"A lot of blacks in the community, a lot of Africans, they're not really aware of a lot of opportunities and ways their kids can further their interests," he said.
Salem Berhane works closely with newcomers to Canada. She said she would like to see parents become more hands-on with their children's education and bridge the gap between parents and teachers .
"So they can communicate with each other, understand the problems that their kids are having and why they are having these problems," she explained. "So the parents can understand with the teachers and then there will be a better understanding on how to aid that child."