Interrupted Childhoods: Over-representation of Indigenous and Black children in Ontario child welfare

This report was published by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).

HERE'S HOW THE AUTHORS DESCRIBE THIS REPORT:
The report outlines findings from its public interest inquiry into whether First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (Indigenous) and Black children are over-represented at children’s aid societies (CASs), particularly in admissions into care.

Overall, the OHRC’s inquiry found that: 

  • Race-based data collection processes and practices are a patchwork across the sector
  • Indigenous and Black children and youth are over-represented in admissions into care at many agencies in Ontario.

“These findings are deeply concerning,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane. “For decades, families and communities have raised the alarm about Indigenous and Black children being over-represented in Ontario’s child welfare system. The long-term damage caused by separating children from their families is undeniable and was extensively documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The government and CASs must take urgent action.”

The underlying social issues that result in the over-representation of Indigenous and Black children in care are multi-faceted and need a multi-pronged approach. The OHRC calls on the Ontario government to develop a provincial strategy, with measurable and timely commitments, to identify and address how families’ social and economic conditions are linked to racial disproportionality and disparity in the system.

The findings also raise serious concerns for CASs. The OHRC urges CASs whose data showed notable disproportionalities to take concrete steps to:

  • Acknowledge the disproportionalities and the potential impact they have on the trust and lived experiences of families and communities
  • Investigate whether their structures, policies, processes, decision-making practices, and organizational cultures adversely affect Indigenous and Black families, and potentially violate Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

The OHRC is developing policy guidance to help individuals, community groups, and organizations identify, address, and prevent racial profiling in Ontario’s child welfare sector.

 

Ontario Human Rights Commission. (2018). Interrupted Childhoods: Over-representation of Indigenous and Black children in Ontario child welfare. Toronto, ON: Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/news_centre/ohrc-releases-report-its-inquiry-over-representation-indigenous-and-black-children-ontario%E2%80%99s-child

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