Paula Wells, CAS/VAW Collaboration Coordinator
On Monday, March 5th, over 200 front-line staff from the Violence Against Women (VAW) and Children's Aid Societies (CAS) sectors came together for the 2018 CAS/VAW Annual Collaboration Forum. The annual forum provides a means to connect, increase awareness, improve communication, and emphasize shared goals between the two sectors.
Funded by the Toronto Region, Ministry of Community and Social Services and The Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the forum is held during The Woman Abuse Council of Toronto's Annual End Violence Against Women Week in Toronto.
This year's forum titled, Building Bridges Together: Child Welfare and Violence Against Women; Supporting Families with Precarious Status, provided attendees with the opportunity to learn more about the services available to women with precarious status and enhance the safety for women and children experiencing violence.
Upon arrival, attendees were welcomed by Co-Chairs Lisa Tomlinson (Children’s Aid Society of Toronto) and Fatima Valentim (Yorktown Shelter for Women). The co-chairs introduced the agenda for the day, the forum’s guiding principles and demonstrated an overview of the purpose, history, and benefits of the CAS/VAW partnership before outlining what participants would learn from the planned presentations and activities.
The forum’s first presenter was Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI). Debbie shared an abundance of valuable information regarding immigration trends and policies during her riveting presentation.
Following Debbie Douglas, Carla Neto, Shelter Manager at YWCA Toronto, facilitated a panel presentation, Building Bridges Together, including four incredible presenters:
You asked and we listened!
Each year attendees are presented with a written case scenario and asked to work at their tables to find solutions for the family. Based on previous evaluations, participants were asking for a more tangible, interactive and fun way to collaborate during this exercise.
Taking past evaluations into consideration, the advisory created an afternoon exercise titled: Pathways to Solutions: Bridging the Gap. An Interactive Case Scenario Planning Exercise. The exercise included four case scenarios, an expert hub and four video intervals. Participants were encouraged to seek out experts, break down silos and to search for strategies and approaches to assist with their cases.
Participants were encouraged to utilize the experts in the room to create a collaborative, comprehensive case management plan for their case scenario.
Thank you to our experts for joining us and sharing their knowledge!
To close off the day, a table discussion was initiated between attendees to reflect on the CAS/VAW Collaboration, the connections they made throughout the day, and resources that they had learned about. Overall, the activities throughout the day were designed to enable front line staff with the tools needed to provide a more collaborative and supportive approach to the families they serve.