News / Ottawa

Ontario Children's Aid Societies faltering to collect race data

Human rights commission singles out agencies.

Children's Aid Society across Ontario have struggled to collect race data according to a new report.

Rick Madonik / Toronto Star Staff

Children's Aid Society across Ontario have struggled to collect race data according to a new report.

Plans to collect race data on Ontario’s children in care appear to be faltering, according to a new report.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission highlighted the problem in their recent annual report, noting Children's Aid Societies in Ontario have failed to prioritize the collection of data based on race.

In late 2015, the commission had declared plans to analyze the overrepresentation of Indigenous and Black children in Ontario’s welfare system, and by February 2016, requested code disaggregated data from all aid societies.

More than a year after this appeal, they are identifying inconsistencies with the data collection.

The race-based data collection is necessary to highlight organizational barriers to improve care for children from mostly Indigenous and racialized backgrounds.

Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa spokesperson, Cindy Perron said gathering any type of data remains an ongoing priority and the agency is trying to collect it, but not always succeeding.  

“We are committed to not accepting those blank fields.”

As it stands, the CAS of Ottawa works closely with Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies and Children’s Aid Societies across the province to certify proper prodecures for collecting data.

In addition, they also gather data on, race, religion and language, though Perron said that statistics also need to be inclusive including sexual identity.

One of the barriers she recognized is educating staff on how to correctly collect statistics, because they need a uniform approach to collecting the information.

She said sometimes both those asking the question and those answering it can be uncomfortable.

“We want to ensure that families feel comfortable with that question being asked. At the same time, we want the protection worker to feel comfortable in asking that question,” said Perron.

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