The following strategies, initiatives and key performance indicators were developed by The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa in 2020 in alignment with our 5-year strategic plan. From 2020 and beyond, we have taken significant strides to further our commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
CASO’s Commitment to Anti-Racism
Canadians are experiencing the ramifications of racism and colonialism linked to a history that dates back centuries; the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO) recognizes the connection the child welfare system has to this history. To move forward authentically, we must acknowledge continual racial injustice within the Canadian context, especially in the child welfare system, and identify and implement real and measurable change.
To do this, we are stepping forward in solidarity with the Black community to create systemic change and combat racism. We are adopting a meaningful approach that uses our resources, our voice and our platform to drive action and change. In keeping with our deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, we are implementing four key commitments to change oppressive trajectories and outcomes for racialized children, youth and families in Ottawa:
- We are publishing detailed numbers identifying how many Black families we serve and exactly how many Black children are in our care. This has been reported on an ongoing basis since November 2, 2020 through our strategic plan.
- We will continue to implement the recommendations of our recent file audit to reduce the number of Black children coming into care, reduce the amount of time they spend in care, and to empower Black families and communities to make decisions for their children. Initiatives implemented include a Service Model specialized for Black families, a Cultural Circle Consultation resource for staff, and a Community Advisory Committee with local partners.
- We now have the expertise of an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Director of Service, who has overseen the implementation of a multi-year anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion (ADEI) strategy.
- We will actively demonstrate our commitment to the values of self-determination, collaboration and connection by working thoroughly with our partners who serve diverse communities to address over and disproportionate representation for the Black families we serve.
We know that we have much to learn so that we can affect change differently. We will continue to work with our Black community advisory groups to establish a future state where the following goals can be achieved:
- That children and youth will not grow up in care;
- That no child/youth will exit the system into loneliness; and,
- That families are empowered to make decisions for their children/youth.
We fundamentally believe that together we can question, reimagine and redesign our practices. Action is necessary to make a difference. As an organization, we know we can do more, and you have our commitment that we will.
Video published in 2020
Path to 2025: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Children, Youth & Families
Ensure children, youth, families and their community participate in the decision-making processes that impact them.
Partners, Communities & Stakeholders
- Implement all 11 practice recommendations from One Vision One Voice;
- Enhance placement stability through reunification and other alternate care arrangements with extended family/community;
- Actively engage with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to update our understanding and co-develop next steps; and,
- Improve prevention and early intervention through joint service planning.
Staff, Managers & Supervisors
- Review policy and practice guidelines so that the language and resulting practice does not exclude, disadvantage or reinforce inequitable outcomes for the children, youth and families served;
- Complete a second staff census to understand the demographics of our workforce and inform an HR development strategy; and,
- Ensure an active offer for French Language Services and access to all disclosures in French where requested.
File Review and Recommendations
In 2019-2020, a working group of Black staff led a review of all Black children in care files. As a result of the review, five (5) recommendations were developed to improve service delivery and experiences for this population group. A work plan has been developed to manage the implementation of each recommendation, as well as ensuring appropriate measurements are in place to evaluate its effectiveness.
- Work with local professionals to reduce disproportionate referrals to CASO: CASO has implemented a Black Community Advisory Committee, comprised of local community agencies who work with Black children, youth and families;
- CASO continues to develop and maintain a comprehensive database of resources for Black children, youth and families offered in English and French;
- Processes have been put in place to better support development and use of kin and networks;
- CASO has developed a case consultation process for Black families; and,
- Develop and maintain consistent connections and consultation with both the English and French speaking Black communities.
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) Workplan
CASO’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Director of Service supports CASO in its work towards creating equitable and inclusive service delivery. In addition, through various committee work with local community members, our organization continues to effectively build on partnerships and experts to increase kin and community support.
One Vision One Voice
Specialized caregiver recruitment initiatives will be put in place to increase outreach within racialized communities. Given our priority on kin and community placements, we continue to enhance our outreach to racialized communities.
HR Recruitment and Retention Plans
- CASO implemented an Equity Hiring Initiative (EHI) on April 1, 2022, which prioritizes the recruitment for identified positions of candidates from the following under-represented groups: Indigenous Persons, Racialized Persons, 2SLGBTQIA+ Persons and Persons living with Disabilities.
- CASO engaged all people leaders in a 360-assessment in 2022/2023 based on the 9 competencies of equitable leadership and provided coaching through external consultants for supervisors and managers following their results.
- CASO implemented the first pillar of its mentorship program in 2023, ensuring that all new hires from equity deserving groups had the option to be connected with a mentor with similar lived experience in order to support their onboarding to the organization.
Key Performance Indicators
- Degree of disproportionality in outcomes for children and youth from diverse communities.
- Number of children and youth placed by CASO within their community.
- CASO’s Board, staff, caregivers and volunteers reflect the various communities served.
- Cultural safety and security plans are embedded in practice and documented for children and youth placed outside of their community.