Empowerment Squared, Hamilton Children’s Aid Society Partner to Support Newcomer And Marginalized Children, Youth and Families in the Community
Empowerment Squared and Hamilton Children’s Aid Society have taken an intentional step on a joint initiative to support newcomer and marginalized families in the Hamilton community, with a special focus on Black and racialized children and youth.
“At Hamilton CAS, our vision is to work together with families and partners in the community to provide support to keep children and youth safe and well,” says Bryan Shone, Executive Director, Hamilton CAS. “We recognize that racialized children and families are overrepresented in the child welfare system, including at our agency, and we are committed to reduce this overrepresentation through the provision of equitable service in concert with our local community. To further this goal, we are building relationships with partners in the community like Empowerment Squared to help us work collaboratively towards equitable outcomes for Black and other racialized newcomer families in the Hamilton community.
The organizations started working together last year and held a series of consultations and town hall meetings with members of the community to get feedback and look at how to support newcomers and look at the services provided through an anti-Black racism lens.
“We came together to look at new opportunities for engagement with each other and with our community,” says Leo Nupolu Johnson, Executive Director, Empowerment Squared. “As an immigrant and former refugee myself, I believe the child welfare system is a very important one in our community. If child welfare is not a part of the settlement and integration process for newcomers, then the information they receive may be misinformed. Many newcomers are looking for assistance and advice.”
Feedback from the community is guiding the work of both organizations including the creation of an at home safety course, a parenting course, programs to help marginalized groups better understand the role of CAS, and the creation of a specialized Newcomer and Racialized Team at Hamilton CAS in March 2020.
To continue to move this work forward the organizations will be delivering programs out of a shared space.
Empowerment Squared will be establishing a presence at 26 Arrowsmith Road, the head office of Hamilton CAS. “Working in a shared space will foster a partnership that benefits and enhances the work of both organizations,” says Johnson. “We want to build responsiveness and relationships with those in our community and this is one significant way we can do this. Additionally, Empowerment Squared’s expansion to have a physical presence in East Hamilton, in addition to our Downtown location, will enable us to serve newcomer and marginalized families across a broader scope of the city.”
Another key area will be a coordination of services between the two organizations. As of November 2020, a pilot program will provide early help and intervention services to meet the needs of racialized families working with Hamilton CAS. “The services will be culturally aligned with a goal of supporting newcomer children in their own homes and communities or assisting with reintegration of children back into their home or in their community when children need to come into care,” says Shone. “By working together, we can expand the programs offered through Empowerment Squared to families working with CAS, and to the broader community,” adds Johnson.
The partnership between the two organizations will move the mission and vision of both agencies forward and improve services for newcomer and racialized families in the Hamilton community.