Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Commitment Statement
Since 1898, Family and Children’s Services (FACS) Niagara has provided critical services and programming to our community’s children and families who are experiencing challenges. As a multi-service organization, our team members are focused upon the protection of children, strengthening families and supporting youth and adults to achieve their full potential. We take our role seriously and fully recognize our responsibilities as a key community partner.
It is in this spirit that FACS Niagara has committed to the enhancement of our work through the dismantling of systemic racism and, in turn, the strengthening of our equity, diversity and inclusion practices. We acknowledge that racialized and marginalized individuals may have faced systemic barriers in accessing our services.
The Child Welfare sector must continue to examine how it has contributed to systemic racism, bias and discrimination of Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ2S communities, women, as well as all people of color, and different physical and cognitive abilities. As a Children’s Aid Society, we must acknowledge the role we have played in these difficult histories and continue our work in earnest to address the intersectionality of the barriers marginalized groups face in receiving equitable service and support.
Since June 2020, our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion leads have been proactively hosting a “Conversations about Systemic Racism” series to give our team members a safe space to have frank, insightful and difficult conversations about race and culture. Our goal in these conversations was to listen and develop actionable change initiatives to address systemic racism and discrimination.
We have further initiated a significant step forward through the creation of a “Joint Committee” in partnership with our CUPE Local to oversee and enhance our work on equity, diversity and inclusion. This work is being led jointly by our Senior Manager of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and the Chief Steward of our CUPE Local to ensure the voices of all team members are heard.
As part of its mandate, the committee has been meeting with leaders from our Black and other marginalized communities to determine how our organization can better support and serve children, youth and families from these communities. Based upon these conversations, we are working with community partners to develop youth groups and a mentorship program to support Black and marginalized children and youth.
We are also reviewing our recruitment strategy to increase our engagement with Black, Indigenous, racialized and marginalized foster parents, volunteers and staff while ensuring that our processes are not inadvertently discriminatory or prohibitive.
Given our role on the frontlines, we understand how important it is to ensure that our staff are trained on our equity, diversity and inclusion practices and obligations including “Anti Oppressive Practice”.
We have also reached out to community partners to assist in an organization-wide interactive training to enhance and support our workforce on barriers and discrimination faced by Indigenous, Black, LGBTQ2S+ and differently abled individuals and on critical topics such as: Equity, Anti-Racism, and Gendered Based Biases.
We promote the work of the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada” to Indigenous peoples by actively engaging in community initiatives and events and revitalization efforts to honour these commitments.
On June 6, 2017, the Ontario Child Welfare sector unanimously agreed to prioritize Reconciliation with Indigenous communities through nine key commitments. FACS Niagara has a long-standing history of commitment and partnership with our local Indigenous community to ensure that Indigenous children, youth and families continue to thrive.
We have invested in meaningful partnerships and community outreach programs such as a bold and unique collaboration to ensure the rights of Indigenous children and families in the Niagara region are being met. Through the enhancement of these collaborative working partnerships with local Indigenous organizations, we share a goal of ensuring that children, youth and families are afforded every opportunity to self determination within the service continuum. This includes access to culturally appropriate services, a signifcant reduction of the number of indigenous children in care, and a commitment to admission prevention.
While these are meaningful steps forward, we know that there is more to be done as an organization, as individuals and as a community to better support and champion BIPOC, LGBTQ2S, women, and differently abled children, youth and families in Niagara.
We want you to know that we are committed to undertaking this important work and to achieving lasting changes that will make our community a more equitable, accepting and supportive place to live, work and grow.
FACS Niagara is committed to our collective wellbeing and our connection with one another.
Together we will become the change we seek today.