June 22, 2022
RE: Global News, APTN Group Home Investigation Article
To child welfare survivors, community members, stakeholders, and the general public,
On May 28, 2022, Global News released an article titled, “Inside Ontario’s ‘scary’ child-welfare system where kids are ‘commodities” which was a joint investigation between Global News and APTN authored by Andrew Russell, Carolyn Jarvis, Michael Wrobel and Elizabeth Sargeant. This article highlighted disturbing and violent conditions in group homes in Ontario.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, CCWS voiced concerns about the possible COVID-19 numbers in child welfare facilities. We also voiced concern about the possible escalation of harm and violence that child welfare survivors experience in these facilities, especially group homes which are notorious for being harmful toward Black, Indigenous, and racialized, queer, Trans, and Disabled child welfare survivors.
While COVID-19 restrictions are fundamental to collective safety, we knew that these restrictions would allow for group home staff to enact further surveillance of child welfare survivors with little oversight from community and official structures.
With the disturbing rates of Serious Incident Reports and uses of restraint over the pandemic, we believe this article brought forth necessary information that begins to expose just how valid our concerns are. However, we also have serious contentions with some of the article’s content and its significant gaps.
One contention is the journalists completely neglected to consider Black child welfare survivors’ experiences, including as possible interviewees for their article. One would assume that the public knowledge that Black child welfare survivors are more likely to be placed in group home facilities and make up a significant part of the population in these settings would necessitate such engagement.
While it was important for the journalists to draw the connections between the presence of child welfare survivors in group care facilities and private companies’ financial interests to retain us in these placements, this is not new information and they failed to provide the nuance which encapsulates Black child welfare survivors’ experiences and histories as Black people, particularly the transatlantic slave trade.
There are multiple reports where many Black child welfare survivors reported they felt as though they were reliving slavery knowing there was a price tag attached to their placement in group facilities. This ongoing history is likely why Black child welfare survivors consistently call for the abolition of child welfare.
This leads to another concern of ours, which is if Black child welfare survivors and Black families experienced anti-Black harm and violence—such as through restraints and serious incidents—due to the multiple publicized cases of state and community violence towards Black people and increased attention towards Black radical community organizing and calls for abolition. We wonder if Black child welfare survivors were/are able to proudly claim their Blackness and calls to make Black life more liveable without backlash in these group facilities.
Another consideration missing from the article is that often serious incidents and restraints in group home facilities justify, or are used in tandem to, calling police on child welfare survivors who are predominantly Black and Indigenous. We are concerned that behind these statistics is an escalation of Black child welfare survivors being subject to and pushed toward the criminal punishment system.
For us as an organization, this article provided another example as to why we exist and are forceful in articulating, prioritizing, and fighting for the interests of Black families and Black child welfare survivors. The broader community needs to remember that Black child welfare survivors and Black families deserve genuine engagement beyond Black History Month; beyond personal and organizational research, scholarly, and academic endeavours; and beyond the rare publicized case in which Black child welfare survivors and Black families experience harm, dying, and death within or due to child welfare in this province.
In light of this article, CCWS is extending our research participant submissions for the project The Forgotten Ones: The Impact of COVID-19 on Black Families and Black Child Welfare Survivors Dealing with Child Protection. We encourage those who work in the field, and Black child welfare survivors and Black families to fill out this 5-10 minute survey so we can do our best to articulate what is behind the kind of statistics released in that article.
To participate in our survey, visit https://collectiveofcws.ca/the-forgotten-ones/
– The Collective of Child Welfare Survivors,
Josh Lamers (he/him), Co-Creator, Executive Lead
Thaila Dixon-Eeet (they/she), Co-Creator, Community Development & Outreach Coordinator
Ashley Ash (she/her), Co-Creator, Core Member