Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) is a multi-service urban Aboriginal agency providing child safety and well-being, holistic, and culture-based programs and services for over 7,000 Aboriginal children and families across the Greater Toronto Area. We remain committed wherever possible to keep families together.
We are concerned about an increased risk of child abuse and neglect with families being increasingly isolated amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis has created a challenging environment for families. With the closures of schools, daycares, and other services, children are increasingly vulnerable to family stress. Aboriginal families already have increased risk factors, when compared to non-Aboriginal households, as it relates to poverty, addictions, mental health, and family violence. Without the appropriate supports during this pandemic Aboriginal children are at greater risk.
The number of calls being reported by community concerning child safety & well-being has plummeted
Kids are simply not being seen during this pandemic unless families were already engaged in service. The majority of our calls historically come from schools, daycare centers, and other professionals. While we have seen a dramatic decrease in new cases being reported we have experienced an increase in demands from existing families. For many of these families, there is an increase in challenges to access food and basic necessities; there is also increased anxiety and stress. We know more than ever there is domestic violence and child abuse/neglect occurring in the community. In this time of crisis, we all need to look out for vulnerable children and families to work together to keep kids safe.
We are an Essential Service and Still Open to Serve 24 Hours, 7 Days a Week
We want the community to know we are open – we are first-responders. If anyone is worried about a child, please call. We are still here and you can remain anonymous. The duty to report obligation for professionals remains and is even more vital during times like this. The goal is to work with families early before problems become acute.
During a time of increased anxiety, vulnerable children, youth and families need support and care more than ever. Should you have concerns for the safety or well-being of a child, or if you are a caregiver who requires support to keep your child safe, please call us at (416) 969-8510. We are also updating our website regularly with more holistic and cultural-based service offerings.