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2SLGBTQIA+ Initiatives :: The Children's Aid Society

2SLGBTQIA+ Initiatives

CASO Logo (PRIDE)

 

The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO) is committed to ensuring that our services are inclusive, safe and affirming for all 2SLGBTQIA+ community members and their allies. As such, in August 2022, we modified our logo in honour of Pride Month in Ottawa.

Our support goes beyond a logo change. The purpose of this month-long redesign was to start a conversation about the work CASO has done over the years, and continues to strive towards, in support of equity and inclusion for all. This is not about aesthetics – rather a statement to all the 2SLGBTQIA+ children, youth, families and staff we work with that CASO stands in solidarity with you during this month of celebration and beyond.

Below, we have outlined several of the active steps we have taken as an organization to support Ottawa’s 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Please click the links below to learn more.

 

Kelly Raymond

Executive Director, CASO

 

 

Internal Queer Forum 2021-2023 Workplan

CASO’s Queer Forum is a staff group that works to ensure that child welfare approaches consider issues of sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression. These efforts aim to improve the quality of work done by those who work with children, youth, and families whose lives are affected by sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression. Specifically, this group aims to:

  • Design a conceptual framework that provides a sound foundation for understanding the importance of 2SLGBTQIA+ concerns,
  • Incorporate knowledge about 2SLGBTQIA+ persons including values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours into sound practice; and,
  • Design appropriate and affirming service delivery systems based on this knowledge that are free from bias.

 

The Queer Forum has developed a three-year workplan that outlines specific actions and timelines to ensure that measurable action is being taken to accomplish these goals. Some key components of the workplan include:

  • Policy review and development
  • Modifying recruitment and retention practices
  • Updating governance materials with a queer and trans equity lens
  • Engaging in local and provincial partnerships
  • Adopting an intersectional approach through broad information sharing
  • Celebrating and/or honouring community events and awareness days
  • Collecting data to engage in identity-informed services
  • Offering support and training to caregivers
  • And more!

 

Rainbow Youth in Care (RYIC) Group

As an agency, we recognized a need for a place where 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in care could learn about their identities and develop a sense of community, safety and support. Thus, the Rainbow Youth in Care (RYIC) group was born!

The RYIC advocacy group, comprised of 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in care, come together to participate in fun, queer- and trans-positive activities and community events, all while working on advocacy and awareness projects. These events are created to ensure that youth in care have positive experiences related to their 2SLGBTQIA+ identity all year long.

 

Safe and Affirming Placements for 2SLGBTQIA+ Children and Youth:

Guide to Assessing New Applicants and Approved Caregivers

When 2SLGBTQIA+ children and youth are placed in settings that are not affirming, they are at greater risk of bullying, potential violence from peers, and may face rejections or denial of their identity, not only from their peers but also from their caregivers. A supportive placement where the youth’s identity is recognized and nurtured can help build a child or youth’s self-esteem, confidence, and self-advocacy, which can assist in long-term positive outcomes. It is critical that children and youth are placed in homes that support their gender identity and sexual orientation.

This new questionnaire, developed by CASO’s Queer Forum, helps resource workers assess all prospective and current foster, adoptive and kin care providers to help ensure 2SLGBTQIA+ children and youth live in safe homes that affirm their identity (and all their intersectional identities) and feel confident that their identity will be understood and nurtured. This will allow all prospective caregivers to think critically about how identity impacts their values and parenting capacity as it relates to 2SLGBTQIA+ children and youth.

 

Procedural Guide to Support Individuals Who Are Transitioning

CASO developed a procedural guide with The Anti-Cisgenderism Policy Preventing Gender Identity and Gender Expression Discrimination as its guiding policy to support individuals transitioning. The guide identified the needs of various groups of workers, including staff, volunteers, students and contractors, as well as caregivers, youth and children.

The guide has been shared with other local, provincial and national agencies in various sectors including education, health and social services, so that more trans people feel supported, recognized, valued and honoured.

 

Partnership with Project Ten Oaks and Camp Lifting Leaves

CASO is proud to partner with Project Ten Oaks and Camp Lifting Leaves to help Ottawa’s 2SLGBTQIA+ youth attend an affirming and life-changing camp every fall that promotes connection and community.

The 2SLGBTQIA+ children and youth involved with CASO who participated in the virtual Camp Lifting Leaves in 2021 reportedly felt a sense of belonging and expressed that the camp helped them feel like they matter, are valued and are celebrated for who they are.

 

Equity Hiring Initiative

CASO is committed to building a skilled workforce that reflects the population of Ottawa as well as the diverse communities we serve. As such, in April 2022, CASO launched the Equity Hiring Initiative to fill opportunities across the organization with qualified applicants who self-identify as Indigenous, visible minority, 2SLGBTQIA+ or persons with disabilities to close the gap of under-representation in designated unionized positions.

As part the Equity Hiring Initiative, CASO will:

  • Maintain an Employment Equity program designed to build a skilled workforce that reflects the Ottawa population and the communities it serves;
  • Ensure that all future vacancies identified within the scope of this initiative will be opportunities for qualified applicants who self-identify as  Indigenous, visible minority, 2SLGBTQIA+, or persons with disabilities; and,
  • Identify positions to be posted and filled under a designated Special Programs hire.

 

Click here to learn more about the Equity Hiring Initiative.