Ontario children’s aid societies agree to collect race data

Overdue.

But data should be used not only to identify bias and ensure consistent treatment but also by communities to discuss aspects that may be internal:

Children’s aid societies in Ontario have agreed to collect data on the race of children and families they serve, a move that comes after mounting outrage about the high number of black and aboriginal kids in care.

Mary Ballantyne, CEO of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, says societies will have a “consistent approach” in place within a year to gather the race-based data.

“We need to have this data,” Ballantyne said. “It will help us figure out what kinds of services need to be provided to what kinds of kids.”

The goal is to ensure that families and children served across the province are being treated equitably, she added. “It is a top priority.”

Ballantyne vowed to make the province-wide race data public as soon as it is collected and analyzed.

The societies are making the commitment after an ongoing Star investigation found that 42 per cent of children and youth in the care of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto have at least one parent who is black. Only 8 per cent of the city’s under-18 population is black.

Black community leaders have complained for years that their children are taken into care in disproportionate numbers. They’ve been pushing the government to order the collection of race-based data, arguing that the child protection system is biased against black families.

Everton Gordon, interim CEO of the Jamaican Canadian Association, called the societies’ commitment to collect race-based data a step in the right direction. He insists, however, that the statistics be used to trigger programs and reforms that will reduce the number of black kids in care.

“It’s more than just a numbers game,” Gordon said in an interview. “It speaks to a system that has embedded biases that produce disproportionality for different marginalized groups.”

Source: Ontario children’s aid societies agree to collect race data | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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