They focused on providing social services to the Black community in Canada through a culturally safe lens. In 2014, JCA decided to separate the two to meet the rising demands of the community.
Today the organization has expanded to provide a variety of services including parenting and family support, individual and group counselling, case management, and employment services, as well as youth mentorship and outreach programs.
Under the children services umbrella, they facilitate several children’s mental health programs in an effort to address behavioural needs.
CAFCAN is a licensed affiliate of the Stop Now And Plan program (SNAP).
SNAP is an evidence-based program designed for kids between the ages of 6 and 11, who are having behavioural issues at school, home, or in the community.
It’s run through the Child Development Institute and the main goal is to keep children in school and out of trouble.
Facilitators in the program work with children and their parents to help them learn how to effectively manage their emotions and develop self-control and problem-solving skills.
Executive Director of CAFCAN, Floydeen Charles-Fridal, says under the former provincial government, the organization was selected to deliver a cultural adaptation of the program. The adaptation allows them to address issues that are specific to Black children and maybe affecting their functionality.
Like many organizations that provide social services, CAFCAN has had to adjust to the public health guidelines outlined by the province.
That means many programs including SNAP have been moved online. Charles-Fridal says this has created an additional barrier.
“One of the things we’ve had to do is adjust to the fact that children are already in front of the computer all day for school. So now we have to figure out how to make the adjustment while still keeping them engaged on a virtual platform,” she said.
Charles-Fridal says another issue that arose during the pandemic is food access for Black families. She says many B3 (Black-serving, Black-led, and Black-focused) organizations have transitioned into providing food support to their clients and families.
CAFCAN is no exception.
With funding from The United Way of Greater Toronto’s Emergency Community Support Fund, CAFCAN launched the People’s Keeper Initiative. The program allows Black groups to work together to ensure families stay healthy while supporting Black organizations.
They’ve partnered with six organizations including “The Afri-Can FoodBasket” and “Second Harvest”, to assemble and deliver weekly food baskets with fresh vegetables, dried goods, and personal care items to families in need.
SPOTLIGHT ON: The Afri-Can FoodBasket combating food insecurity
CAFCAN has also expanded its mental health services to address the impact of the pandemic.
They’re exploring the use of art-based interventions and services as a way to deal with mental health distress.
Charles-Fridal says the program shows potential for great success because art is not just a form of entertainment in the African community.
“The reason we’re able to survive, thrive and be resilient is because of how [important] music, dance and the spoken word is to us and our mental health.”
She says the pandemic has magnified racism in the city and it’s “not just a black problem. It’s a people problem” that can only be fixed when everyone works together to identify and eradicate anti-Black racism.
CAFCAN is currently looking for allies to support the work and place of Black-led, Black-serving, and Black-mandated organizations in the non-profit sector.