EDI Initiatives


Our Support for the Black Community 

The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO) is committed to combatting anti-Black racism, and the ongoing racial injustices faced by the Black community in the child welfare system.  

In keeping with CASO’s core commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, we have implemented four key commitments to change oppressive trajectories and outcomes for racialized children, youth, and families in Ottawa 

We are pleased to share the following updates on each of the key commitments outlined in our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan: 


1. We have committed to... Publishing detailed numbers identifying how many Black families we serve and exactly how many Black children are in our care.


Where are we now? In 2018, the government of Ontario mandated the collection of race-based data. This data collection allows for public agencies to support the development of fair policies, equitable strategies, and culturally appropriate resources for all communities and to help address racism and discrimination that exist in government structures. We are committed to providing services to children, youth and families that are equitable and inclusive. Our 5-year Strategic Plan outlines the various strategies and initiatives in place to support improved services to families from Black, Racialized, First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities. Please note: The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa’s race-based data for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023will be published here by April 30, 2023. 


2. We have committed to… Reducing the number of Black children coming into care, reducing the amount of time they spend in care, and empowering Black families and communities to make decisions for their children.  

Where are we now? CASO acknowledges the overrepresentation of Black families involved in child welfare, which operates on a current standard service delivery model created on the basis of White, European culture. To reduce the number of Black children entering care and change our methods of service, CASO implemented a service delivery model for families of African Canadian descent.  

The new service delivery model operates on the basis that: 

  • Societal context, personal judgement and biases influence the delivery of service; 

  • Families have endured historical discrimination; and, 

  • Systemic racism continues to affect the lives of Black families.  

To change this trajectory, we must slow down the process and provide service in a manner that honours the race, culture and community of the family.  


3. We have committed to… Hiring an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Manager to oversee the implementation of a multi-year anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion (ADEI) strategy. 

Where are we now?  The organization’s first Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager was hired in 2019Today, the manager is one of the two directors of service. CASO recognizes the historical and continued oppression of non-dominant groups in society. We know child welfare has used dominant and mainstream values that “others” non-dominant groups, which has led to the over-representation of these groups within our system. The oppression of non-dominant groups has also led to the underrepresentation and lack of opportunities for certain groups within our workforce.  

To increase the representation of various groups within our workforce, we acknowledged that these past inequities – which prevented certain candidates from gaining opportunities – must be addressed, and equitable opportunities must be created. CASO is putting these principles into practice through our Equity Hiring Initiative (EHI). Since April 2022, the EHI has filled 49% of CASO’s new hire positions – 7 of which are at the management level. We continue to post positions under the EHI in pursuit of a more diverse and inclusive workplace at all levels.


4. We have committed to… Actively demonstrating 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. 

Where are we now? CASO’s Black Advisory Committee is currently being developed. This Committee will be comprised of community members who work in fields dedicated to fighting Anti-Black racism. This committee's mission will be to advise the Society on how to tackle the overrepresentation of Black families that are involved in the child welfare system. The committee is currently a work in progress. 

Some of our community partners include: 


Our Commitment to Supporting Black Staff 

An authentic commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion means considering everyone. This includes Black CASO staff members who do the critical work needed to support families and youth in our community every single day. That is why, in 2019, the Black staff at CASO came together to create Umoja – a Forum dedicated to: 

  • Ensuring that CASO is a safe place for Black staff, 

  • Educating staff on anti-Black racism approaches/practices, 

  • Ensuring that CASO is reflective of the community we serve, 

  • Advocating for Black children/youth in care, 

  • Enhancing staff knowledge and skillset in working with Black children, youth, and families, 

  • Strengthening our partnerships with the community, and, 

  • Ensuring Black families have the same outcomes as non-Black families. 

In alignment with the OACAS’s One Vision One Voice initiative, Umoja was created to aid in changing the child welfare system in Ottawa to better serve African Canadians. Umoja staff meet bi-monthly to work together on how to best support the Black children, youth and families that CASO serves, as well as their fellow Black staff, ensuring their work is rooted in cultural identity and practices.  


The Umoja Youth Group 

The Umoja Youth Group, led by CASO staff, support Black youth in care by planning and organizing activities with youth to expose them to cultural components and activities that connect youth with, or keep them connected to, their cultural identity.  

Umoja Youth Group leaders accompany the youth to events across their community, the city, and even the country. This opportunity for Umoja Youth Group members to learn about their cultural identity and history through immersive experiences is one that youth in care may not otherwise be exposed to. Some past trips and events include: 

  • Toronto, Ontario: One Vision One Voice PowerUp! Symposium  

  • Halifax, Nova Scotia: Discovering Africville and Black settlement in Canada