Black youth are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. Many times, youth are unfairly treated within the system, and other times community and educational experience can disproportionately lead Black youth to engage in criminal behaviour. The structure and practice of anti-Black racism in Canada is complex, however, many institutions are beginning to understand how their systems impact Black youth and their families.
Learn more about the criminal justice in Canada
Resources for youth and families
Our team met with Nicola Crow, Executive Director for the Durham Family Court Clinic, an organization dedicated to supporting young people, families and the community involved in the criminal justice system, with specialized legal and mental health needs.
Durham Family Court Clinic
Interview with Executive Director Nicola Crow
To empower and engage young people/families and communities through collaboration, innovation and excellence.
Who DFCC Supports?
DFCC generally supports youth from the age of 12 to 21, and sometimes until the age 25. The referral route to their programs are program specific. Services are only open to residents of Durham Region. Many of their programs have specific referral sources from the youth justice system, such as from Probation or the Youth Court. There are certain programs that receive referrals from schools, community agencies and a few programs that are self or family referrals i.e. the Enhanced Youth Outreach Worker program that provides one-to-one counselling support, including helping bridge services where a youth is in crisis and services are not immediately available.
DFCC supports Black, Indigenous and People of Colour by…
DFCC supports our community by looking at the youth and their families as individuals utilizing a holistic approach. When working with families they do not work with youth alone but also ensure they work with
the young person’s network as well. They also understand that each youth is individual to their circumstances, strengths, abilities, communities, culturally sensitive, sexual identity, gender identity.
The DFCC Team approach their work with young people and families through an Anti-Oppressive and Anti-Racism perspective and practice. DFCC strives to do a good job of providing that support that is taking into account the youth themselves and the uniqueness that they bring.
DFCC, as an agency is committed to combat oppression, Anti-Black racism, racism and discrimination.
For DFCC it is very important that work done from an individual basis reflects the outcomes the young person would like to see for themselves, whatever that might mean for them. They recognized each youth is on their own journey and having an inclusive approach when considering how as an agency, they can invest the necessary support to meet the needs reflective of the current and evolving community. Their priority goes to one of their strategic plan goals to be a welcoming place for everyone.
DFCC team understand how it is important to them to be flexible, think outside the box and to do all that they can to support young people and families even during the pandemic. For example, if a young
person does not attend an appointment even if it is a number of times they work hard to continue to reach out to engage with the young person.
How has DFCC supported youth during the global pandemic?
DFCC is currently providing virtual service delivery via phone, text, secure virtual delivery platform with some program specific direct face-to-face service at their main office location, e.g. their Collaborative Day Treatment Program. Programming and service looks a lot different Pre COVID because a key component in their service delivery philosophy was to meet youth where they were at in their own community. This meant young people/families did not typically come to their offices, instead meetings took place in the young person’s community. Their approach before COVID and now during COVID is to do everything they can to engage and empower the young person and family.
Interested in connecting with the DFCC team?
For those interested in accessing programs, please call the main office at 905-436-6754. As part of the referral process, it is
important to have a conversation with the Program Director to discuss the type of services they would be looking for. Depending on needs identified, eligibility for that person/ family would then determine what type of program they may be referred to. If DFCC cannot provide support they will look to recommend alternate community services that could support the young person.
Intensive Support & Supervision
provides programs designed to deliver services appropriate to the Youth’s level of functioning and specific needs and mental health diagnoses. In addition, the service goal is to target those specific needs or problems that are recognized as contributing to the youth’s offending behaviour.
Violence Prevention Program
free workshops designed to promote: a change in attitude and beliefs regarding violence and bullying; and healthy relationships and overall health and wellbeing.
Youth Court Assessments
ordered by the Youth Court and used to identify the historical and current mental health issues of the young person and to make recommendations to the Court for medical/psychological/psychiatric treatment plans.
Collaborative Day Treatment Program
provides students with a strengths based, empowering and safe environment, enabling them to take the necessary risks to strive to reach their intellectual, physical and emotional potential.
Community Support Team
provides clinical counselling and support services
to youth who are at risk and in conflict with the law, and their families.
Want to learn more?
Different programs have different criteria however this varies dependent on if it is a court ordered program or a community based referral program. Typically they do not have a waiting list.
The Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC)
he Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) is a non-profit community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario that provides free legal services for low or no income Black residents of Ontario, including legal representation, summary legal advice and brief services, if the legal issue directly relates to anti-Black racism.