Antwi-Boasiako, K., Fallon, B., King, B., Trocmé, N. et Fluke, J. (2021). Examining decision-making tools and child welfare involvement among Black families in Ontario, Canada. Children and Youth Services Review, 126, 1-11.
In examining 20 years of data using the first five cycles of the Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (OIS-1993 to OIS-2013), Antwi-Boasiako, King, Fallon, Trocmé, Fluke, et al. (2020) found that the incidence of child welfare investigations in the province doubled for White families between 1998 and 2003; the incidence of child welfare investigations for Black families quadrupled for the same period. This paper continues to examine the overrepresentation of Black families in Ontario by focusing on the implementation of standardized decision-making tools, specifically the Ontario Risk Assessment Model. The results from this study suggest that reports of physical abuse and exposure to intimate partner violence may be key factors for the overrepresentation of Black children in Ontario’s child welfare system over time and they may be potential explanations for the quadrupling of the number of Black children investigated by Ontario’s child welfare system. The rate of physical abuse investigations involving Black families tripled significantly between 1998 and 2003, from a rate of 11.25 per 1,000 Black children in 1998 to 34.68 per 1,000 Black children in 2003. Exposure to intimate partner violence investigations dramatically and significantly increased 29 times for Black families, from 0.57 per 1,000 Black children in 1998 to 16.16 per 1,000 Black children in 2003. The use of the Ontario eligibility spectrum and the lowering of risk threshold have likely contributed to a greater proportion of Black families investigated by the Ontario child welfare system. Key recommendations include the involvement of the Black community in the development of decision-making tools so that the tools can account for both risk and culturally-based protective factors in the Black community. Both public and private sector institutions also have a role to play in addressing the cultural and structural issues that may be the root cause of the challenges Black families face.