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Recognizing the overrepresentation of Black children and youth in care, DCAS has developed Kasserian Ingera – The Durham Model.

The first of its kind in child welfare, this three-year, community based initiative designed to provide culturally appropriate supports and early intervention services to African-Canadian families and children who are at-risk or have become involved with the society.

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Kasserian Ingera [KA-SERIAN IN-GER-A]

Translated to “and how are the children?”, Kasserian Ingera is the traditional greeting offered between the African Masai people. Indicative of the view that the well-being of their children reflects the well-being of their entire society, even those no children of their own use the greeting. When the response “All the children are well” is offered, it means life is good.

Life for Black Children and Youth In Care

In 2018, eight of the 27 Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario had an over-representation of Black children admitted into care.

Within Durham Region, 11 per cent of the population identifies as Black, however, in 2021, 14.8 per cent of children in the care of DCAS were Black.

“The system in Ontario, as it currently exists, is failing Black families which is why we need to fundamentally change the way we offer assistance and support. Kasserian Ingera – The Durham Model is a bold step forward in creating this much-needed and long overdue reform.”

— Steve Woodman, Executive Director, Durham Children’s Aid Society

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How the Durham Model Works

DCAS, along with its African Canadian Services Team and One Vision One Voice lead, is proud to partner with Black-led community organization Ifarada: Centre for Excellence, to implement Kasserian Ingera – The Durham Model.

The key focus of the model is on prevention and early intervention and to reduce the number of Black children and youth entering the child welfare system.

This will be done by improving service coordination, creating community linkages, and providing culturally focused services, while also fostering a safe-space for Black families to seek support.

Examples of the type of services provided include:
  • Meeting with families to gather and assess information, so client issues, needs and risks can be identified, followed by developing and implementing tailored service plans.
  • Providing support and assisting with problem-solving for clients using techniques such as Healing Circles and trauma-informed therapy, to address issues related to life stabilization in an individual or group setting.
  • Developing and implementing culturally tailored programs and workshops on topics related to family and parenting.
  • Providing youth services programs and other community and social service programs.
  • Partnering with system partners (e.g., the Region of Durham and Carea Community Health Centre) to develop and implement culturally appropriate services and programs such as Black-led child and youth programs and Aunties and Uncles Club).
  • Referring clients to other social services or assisting them in locating and utilizing community resources including legal, medical and financial assistance, housing, employment, transportation, childcare and other services.
  • Liaising with and/or promoting the interests of clients with other community service providers, professionals and school personnel as required.
  • Providing anti-racism and anti-oppression education and training to stakeholders in key public institutions.

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Project Background

In July 2020, the provincial government announced its Child Welfare Redesign Strategy, envisioning an Ontario where every child, youth and family have access to the supports they need to succeed and thrive.

In November of that same year, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (the Ministry) brought DCAS, Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child and Family Services (Dnaagdawenmag), and the Region of Durham together to discuss the redesign and offered the agencies an opportunity to submit requests for funding to develop and test child welfare redesign prototypes specifically focused on early intervention services that reduce the need and demand for social service involvement later on.

Overrepresentation was identified as a key issue and, supported by a $50,000 investment from the Ministry, Dnaagdawenmag began creating an initiative to reduce the number of Indigenous youth and children in the system, while DCAS began working on a framework to do the same for the Black kids in care.

The result is Kasserian Ingera – The Durham Model.

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About Ifarada: Centre for Excellence – Durham Model Co-Lead

Ifarada: Centre for Excellence is the Black-led community agency co-leading Kasserian Ingera – The Durham Model, alongside DCAS for the three-year term of the project.

Founded as a non-profit organization in 2018 by Nicole Perryman, it supports hundreds of individuals and families in communities throughout Durham Region, Toronto, and York Region through its focus on cultural informed practice, anti-oppressive practice, and holistic care.

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Meet Nicole Perryman, Executive Director of Ifarada

Nicole Perryman is an equity consultant and teacher, psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, and specialized trauma and play therapist. She has been supporting children, youth and families since 2001 in sectors such as child welfare, mental health, criminal justice system, social services, education system, and more. Nicole is the clinical director of Ifarada: Centre for Excellence, as well as Aset Group Consulting and Counselling Services and an emerging family services agency.

“The team at Ifarada are passionate about serving our community, building families, and reducing disparities in mental health, education, criminal justice and social services. The Durham Model’s Afrocentric wraparound approach is a much-needed change within the child welfare system and Ifarada is looking forward to helping demonstrate its positive impact on Black child and family wellbeing.”

— Nicole Perryman, Founder Ifarada: Centre for Excellence

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Third-Party Evaluation, Data Collection and Replication

As part of the project, race-based data will also be collected, looking for and testing evidence-informed approaches to reduce disparities due to race, and a third-party evaluator will follow the process and assess all outcomes.

The intention is for The Durham Model to be replicated across the province of Ontario to address similar concerns in other regions.

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