Training for children’s aid societies

Jeffrey Balwin
Jeffrey Balwin

As the Caribbean Diaspora and the Black community work toward a Caribbean / Black children’s aid society, those organizations in Ontario are stressing that change is coming via high-level training for child protection workers with the goal of having them certified by a professional college.

Starting in May, this new “authorization” process takes the form of a pilot project with implementation slated for next January across Ontario. This is part of a plan that the union representing CAS workers supports.

The authorization process was recommended by an inquest into the death of Jeffrey Baldwin who was placed with his abusive grandparents.

The Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto failed to do due diligence on the grandparents.

The key on training is getting families the support needed to stay together, particularly when parents are struggling with poverty, mental health issues or addictions.

However, the union representing child protection workers is firmly opposed to oversight from a professional college and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which regulates and funds child protection, is so far staying out of the fight.

Nancy Simone, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local representing 275 workers at the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto , argues child protection workers already have levels of oversight that include workplace supervisors, family courts, coroners’ inquests and annual case audits by the ministry.

“Our work is already regulated to death,” she said.

She suggests protection workers are overworked, which is made worse by ministry budget cuts. “That’s usually why standards aren’t there.

“Our concern is that the college will focus blame on individual workers rather that system-wide issues.”