CASO Partners with Ottawa’s Muslim Community to Improve Supports for Families

The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO) is proud to have once again partnered with Ottawa Muslim Community Services (OMCS) to provide essential cultural supports to both staff and families during Ramadan and beyond.

In early March, CASO staff members engaged in an informative workshop, aimed at enhancing their understanding of Ramadan and improving their capacity to support Muslim families. Throughout the month, CASO also assisted OMCS with the distribution of food hampers, ensuring that families had the necessary resources to observe Ramadan with ease.

Leading up to Eid al-Fitr, CASO continued these efforts by distributing gifts to Muslim children, youth, and families through its annual Holiday Gift Program.

Among the highlights of CASO’s Ramadan initiatives is the annual Fasting Challenge and Iftar event, in partnership with OMCS. For the fourth year in a row, non-Muslim staff members joined their Muslim colleagues in fasting for a day on April 4, demonstrating solidarity and mutual respect. Once again this year, participating individuals reported that the experience helped deepen their understanding of Ramadan and strengthen empathy among colleagues.

These initiatives not only underscore CASO’s commitment to cultural inclusivity but also highlight its dedication to improving services and outcomes for Muslim families in the Ottawa community.

CASO’s Muslim Steering Committee

Central to expanding CASO’s efforts to support Muslim families is the Muslim Steering Committee.

Launched in 2023, the committee is comprised of various Muslim community agencies across Ottawa, including OMCS, Muslim Family Services of Ottawa, Sakeenah Canada, Abraar School, AMA Community Centre, and Sadaqa Food Bank.

“We’re focused on building relationships in the community to be able to connect Muslim families with culturally appropriate supports as soon as possible,” said Alain Corriveau, CASO Child Protection Services Supervisor and committee co-chair. “This is important because it provides families with tools to address their challenges without the need for long-term services and involvement from CASO. Overall, this approach is less intrusive and more collaborative – we’re already receiving positive feedback from families.”

The committee meets at a local mosque once a month to discuss strategies to ensure that Muslim children and youth remain with their families and connected to their community whenever safely possible.

In addition to advising CASO’s service delivery approach, committee members act as a resource link for CASO, helping to expand the agency’s reach and access to supports across diverse Muslim communities in Ottawa.

“We’re helping CASO connect families with people and community resources that share their religious perspective and cultural background,” said Shawana Shah, Ottawa Muslim Community Services Board Member and committee member. “Families are now receiving a more holistic and culturally integrated approach to child welfare services.”

In 2023, CASO also allocated two specialized workers trained to work with Muslim families at the first assessment level. This has resulted in about 10 times more Muslim families being connected with culturally informed services.

“Connecting families with a worker who understands their language and their world goes a long way in terms of building trust and helping families become more open to receiving our support,” said Corriveau.

Moving forward, the committee is focused on expanding its network. This includes recruiting more Muslim foster homes in Ottawa, as well as encouraging Muslim social workers to apply for positions at CASO to help advance equitable services for families in the community.

Through leveraging partnerships, building trust within Ottawa’s Muslim community, and increasing learning and development opportunities for staff members, CASO strives to continue to help Ottawa’s Muslim children, youth and families thrive through culturally appropriate care and services.

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