Yonge Street Mission and the CAS of Toronto Partner to Improve Service Outcomes for Black Families

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Working together through innovative partnership in advocacy and service delivery to support and strengthen families

Toronto, July 6, 2020 – Yonge Street Mission (YSM) and Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CAS of Toronto) are taking further steps to achieve positive impacts for Black families served by CAS of Toronto through the Cornerstone Partnership joint service initiative.

Funded by the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada and private YSM donors, this partnership was launched in 2019 to find further solutions to systemic racism within CAS of Toronto that led to a disproportionate number of Black children in care. This initiative provides vulnerable families with early intervention designed to address issues of poverty and strengthen their capacity to keep children and youth at home and in their community.

While Black Torontonians represent only nine per cent of the city’s population, Black children represent the highest percentage of children in the care of CAS of Toronto. The fundamental causes point to deep-seated issues of poverty, compounded by systemic racism — preconceived ideas about a parent’s ability to care for their child.

“With one in four children in Toronto living in poverty, many child welfare investigations are not related to abuse or intentional neglect, but rather to issues of poverty such as lack of food, safe housing or childcare — all things YSM is able to offer,” says Angie Peters, President & CEO, Yonge Street Mission. “What families need are social services and preventive help. That’s why we’re coming together with CAS of Toronto to help stabilize families, and to reduce the length of stay of a child brought into foster care.”

By providing supports and services to families that directly impact their ability to care for their children, the Cornerstone Partnership is shifting CAS of Toronto’s child welfare model of reactive investigation to proactive intervention. The organizations work together on case management, with CAS of Toronto connecting families to YSM for culturally-reflective services and wrap-around support, including: employment resources, housing advocacy, educational upgrades, subsidized daycare, nutritional information, food access and counselling services.

“The Cornerstone Partnership is one of the many ways we’re addressing the disproportionate number of Black families involved with our service,” says Paul Rosebush, CEO of Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. “We know that YSM brings a strong history of positive community service to this partnership as well as deep relationships with Toronto’s vulnerable and marginalized communities.  Through our work together we can build the capacity of families to protect their children, instead of protecting children from their families.”

The long-term goals of this partnership are to minimize potential trauma, disruption and distress which can lead to multi-generational impacts on the overall well-being of a family, and mitigate potential poor outcomes experienced by children involved with CAS of Toronto, including challenges with housing, employment, education, mental health and criminal activity. Initial results reflect these positive impacts and a range of benefits the service interventions are already having for Black families in Toronto.

“When my son was brought into the care of Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, I was connected with YSM to receive resources and community support that allowed him to return home, including the Man2Man caregiver support program and the food bank,” says client and program participant Greg Nunes. “As a young Black father, who also grew up in foster care, YSM gave me the courage and support during this tough time to keep going and to reconnect with extended family.”

To learn more about this powerful initiative and how to get involved through family-to-family mentorship opportunities, volunteering or donation watch our join webinar entitled Changing the Narrative: Building Solutions for Black Families by following the link here.

To learn more about this initiative or to donate, please visit ysm.ca/cornerstone-partnership