Building the capacity of community leaders to respond to family violence in the context of early identification

 

Project Name

 
Building the capacity of community leaders to respond to family violence in the context of early identification

Lead Agency: Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Innovation
Legal Partner: Hamoody Hassan of Hassan Law; Michael Loebach of Loebach Law Firm
Community Partners:
The Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex; London Muslim Mosque; Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario; Al-Mahdi Centre; Huron College

Legal Topics for Training

The focus of the training is law and family violence. The legal topics to be covered are:

  • the Child and Family Services Act
  • child abuse law in the Criminal Code
  • indicators of abuse/neglect and the duty to report
  • relationship between child welfare and intimate partner violence
  • laws of confidentiality
  • legal obligations in accordance with police practices

Project Summary

This project will educate front line service workers and faith leaders within the Muslim community on child welfare law and intimate partner violence in the context of cultural norms and values as well as traditional family roles within the Muslim community.

Target Audiences

The training will be directed towards:

  • front-line workers who engage with Muslim and Arabic-speaking families including; settlement workers; employment workers; frontline workers from violence against women agencies; health care workers
  • faith leaders and educators involved in Muslim religious schools
  • community and student leaders

Key Activities

A Project Advisory Committee will be created consisting of members from local violence against women agencies, Muslim community groups, children services agencies, immigration groups, and representatives from each partner agency in order to ensure the training meets the needs of the Muslim and Arabic-speaking community. A curriculum will be made that provides participants with an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the different branches of the criminal justice system, and the way the system is experienced by both victims and perpetrators.

The training will be delivered via in-person workshops over three days. The first day will discuss child welfare basics, the second will focus on intimate partner violence basics, and the third day will discuss effects of family violence on immigration. Participants will be asked to bring case examples from their experience in the field to be used for a comparative analysis during training. The training sessions will be conducted in three different locations. Participants will be invited back for a fourth additional follow-up date four months after to discuss and reflect how they used the new information in their daily work.

Materials to be developed include a training manual with a facilitator’s guide, fact sheets, and referral and information sheets.

Need for Training

Child welfare and family violence are complex areas and many cultural norms and practices can be involved. All too often the child welfare agencies are seen as interfering in areas that are the sole responsibility of families. The child welfare staff is seen as taking children away so that children lose their sense of identity, culture and background. Many families in the Muslim community are not aware of the role and function of child welfare agencies.

This reality can leave parents afraid and confused about their rights and responsibilities and can put children at risk. Also, many community members are not aware of what behaviours in an intimate partner setting are considered illegal under the Canadian Criminal Code. Ignorance of child welfare and criminal law can have a significant impact on families with respect to safety and security.

Innovative Approach

This project instills a cultural lens to ensure that members of the Muslim and Arabic-speaking community find the programming relevant, meaningful and helpful. As an agency, the Muslim Resource Centre works to bridge the largely individualistic approach and orientation of the nuclear family with the traditional way of looking at family and life within Muslim community, which is based on a collective culture and cooperative approach to living. The training approach will mirror this work by ensuring that it is rooted in an understanding of the lived experience of the members of the community.

This project will also further strengthen their partnerships and work in a more in-depth fashion with regards to child welfare and criminal justice. Through this project, they will be able to reinforce and expand a critically important dialogue about family issues and abuse of vulnerable people and as part of this conversation, help workers and leaders to work more effectively with representatives from each of these sectors.