Child Welfare

Centering equity in child welfare to close the
systemic gap for marginalized communities.

Child Welfare

The Challenges

When it comes to the outcomes for Indigenous and Black communities, the child welfare sector in North America is in crisis mode. Overrepresentation is already staggering and is trending steadily upwards. For example, in Toronto’s child welfare system, Black children account for 37% of apprehensions despite Black people accounting for only 8% of the city’s population. On the other hand, white children make up 40% of the children in care though they account for 50% of Torontonians.

These kind of disproportionate outcomes exist because the sector has not yet understood that their work, at its core, is about equity. If the goal is to minimize the number of children in care, it is necessary to understand the larger systemic issues that are causing children of particular groups to be apprehended. Achieving more equitable outcomes will require acknowledging how the system is set up to benefit the dominant group, and by natural extension, disadvantage members of marginalized groups. But an enduring assumption of neutrality means that there are no spaces or mechanisms for staff or community members to name, complain about, or seek resolution for systemic issues. Staff, primarily social workers, do not have the capacity or knowledge base to begin changing this situation, and those who speak up on the issues they observe are accused of failing to be objective.

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For example, studies have shown that Black, Latino (US) and Indigenous (US and Canada) patients admitted to hospitals are less likely to receive effective services like cancer screenings, and more likely to be given unnecessary and potentially harmful tests and interventions. These same patient were also more likely to be uninsured. Research also suggests that health care professionals often underestimate the pain levels of racialized patients even when they provide the same descriptions as their white counterparts. Similar issues arise when you examine mental health.

Children of colour are less likely to receive diagnoses of ADHD despite showing symptoms at the same rate as their white counterparts, but they were more likely to be placed in special education. Meanwhile, some doctors are prescribing ADHD medications to low-income children, purely as a means of improving poor academic performance, despite uncertainty about the long-term effects of these drugs.

Child Welfare

Our Solutions

Kojo Institute has been at the forefront of leading systems change within the child welfare sector, spearheading One Vision, One Voice, a first-of-its-kind initiative addressing anti-black racism in Ontario’s child welfare system. We call on the same strategies behind that initiative to help other clients in this sector to begin collecting, analyzing, and using disaggregated data to center equity in their work. We use the results of this data analysis to inform which marginalized communities are most at risk, what systemic issues are creating disparate outcomes, and what resources and processes are needed to close those gaps.

Using a range of delivery methods, we help organizations and institutions move beyond theoretical expertise into practical and on-the-ground organizational change. We provide staff and key changemakers in the sector with the language to identify, name, and discuss systemic issues, the knowledge to create accessible and reliable mechanisms for accountability, and methods and processes to collect the community, youth, and staff to address issues of oppression and systemic discrimination.

8 Levers To Organizational, Institutional and Systems Change

  • Engaging the Board of Directors
  • Impacting Staffing Strategies
  • Examining the Accountability Framework
  • Maximizing the Use of Data
  • Implementing Fresh Training and Learning
  • Amplifying Communications Strategies
  • Widening Community and Stakeholder Relations
  • Revisting Service or Business Models

What We Do Well

  • Equity & Human Rights
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Anti-Racism & Anti-Oppression
  • Unconscious Bias
  • Employment Equity
  • Human Resources Diversity
  • Organizational Culture Change

How We Prepare You

  • Training
  • Executive Coaching
  • Community Consultations
  • Content & Research Development
  • Keynotes & Guest Lectures
  • Conferences
  • Multi-Session Programs

Building Transformation Skills

KOJO Institute leads executives, managers and organizations through an innovative approach that reconstructs their paradigms and systems connected to equity, diversity and inclusion. We amplify the vision for change through deep-dive explorations that identify the scope, segment competencies and quantify resources required to birth social innovation.

With a clear focus on client expectations, we aim to produce actionable frameworks and solutions that ultimately better the lives your people and organization. Contact us.

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