Greg was heartbroken when, at birth, his son was taken into protective custody. Alone and unsupported, Greg tried his best to get his son back. “It didn’t look like I had a chance,” says Greg, “I knew I would have to work hard to beat the stereotype that comes with being a young Black father. I didn’t have anyone in my corner to help. I sincerely wanted to have custody of my boy, but the odds were stacked against me.”
While only 9% of Toronto’s population self-identify as Black, a disproportionate number of the children and youth in the care of Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CAS of Toronto) identify as Black.
Greg worked with CAS of Toronto but struggled to feel heard and supported, “I could see things needed to change.”
Thankfully, Greg’s CAS of Toronto worker introduced him to YSM and the Cornerstone Partnership, which is a collaboration between CAS of Toronto and YSM, aimed at working to strengthen, stabilize and restore families.
“That’s when everything changed for me,” says Greg.
“I met the [Cornerstone] team who started accompanying me to visits with my son where we could get to know one another and start building a bond.
“YSM introduced me to a lot of great programs, helped me out with food through their Food Bank, parenting workshops and the Man 2 Man discussion group, which I still attend. Now I know a lot of people I can turn to. They even helped me get furniture for my place, and Christmas and birthday presents for my son.
“I’m part of the YSM community, and I have a team of people in my corner. I’m currently on a wait list to get a mentor family. My son needs good role models and YSM is going to help me get that too.”
When asked how the partnership has affected his life as a Black father, Greg replied, “Honestly, it feels great. I didn’t have a father myself, I was stuck in the system for quite some time.
“I thought at one point I was going to lose my son. And through the partnership of CAS and YSM, they made it happen where my son came back. Trust me, when they’re in bed sleeping and you’re just watching them, you get that warm heart feeling, it feels good.”
On July 9th, YSM hosted a joint webinar with CAS of Toronto entitled Changing the Narrative: Building Solutions for Black Families.
In it, we were pleased to share the impact of our innovative Cornerstone Partnership. We heard from Greg, as well as seasoned leaders as they discussed the history of systemic racism, it’s impact on children, youth and families in our community and how we can drive change together.
We invite you to learn more and view the webinar recording at ysm.ca/cornerstone-partnership.
Thank you for supporting YSM, to strengthen and stabilize families, like that of Greg and his son.