The Current

Ontario children's aid will collect race data to address overrepresentation

How does child welfare need to change in order to address the overrepresentation of black and Aboriginal children in care?
How does child welfare need to change to address the overrepresentation of black and Aboriginal children in care? (Todd Warshaw / Getty Images)

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On June 2, 2016, the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies announced a plan to collect race statistics. This statement comes on the heels of mounting concerns about the over-representation of Aboriginal and black youth in Ontario's child care.

The Toronto Star found that 42 per cent of children and youth in the care of the Children's Aid Society of Toronto have at least one parent who is black —despite the fact that only eight per cent of Toronto's under-18 population is black — while Statistics Canada says nearly half of the 30,000 children in the country's child welfare system are indigenous. 

Kiaras Gharabaghi, the director of the School of Child and Youth Care at Ryerson University, notes that once children are in government care, treatment differs according to their racial backgrounds. 

 'It is fairly common practice to  criminalize  the behaviour of black young men in group homes that would not be  criminalized  if the racial background were different. In the context of indigenous youth, there continues to be a horrifying ignorance of cultural practices.- Kiaras   Gharabaghi , director of the School of Child and Youth Care at Ryerson University.

The Current hosts a panel discussion on the importance of collecting race statistics as a first step toward building a better system of care. 

Very often we've been treating children and youth as if all of their needs are the same. We need to understand their needs from a variety of perspectives to see if they've come into foster care just because [ . . . ] their parents have in fact been marginalized .-Mary Ellen  Turpel-Lafond , British Columbia's representative for Children and Youth

  •     Kiaras Gharabaghi, director of the School of Child and Youth Care at Ryerson University.
  •     Sonia Mills-Minster, head of Millan and Associates, a private counseling company that runs a program to prevent African-Canadian children from going into care. 
  •     Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, British Columbia's representative for Children and Youth.

The segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese, Idella Sturino and Karin Marley.

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