A critical analysis of the Assessment and Action Record (AAR) documentation: Examining the educational experiences of Black youth-in-care in Ontario
Keywords:Black youth-in-care, Education, Ontario, Looking-after-children, Assessment and Action Record
This article focuses on the Ontario Assessment and Action Record (AAR), used in child welfare to understand how this documentation supports (and fails to support) Black youth-in-care and their academic needs. We applied a critical review and analysis of three distinct but interconnected sources of data: 1) the AAR-C2-2016; 2) literature on the education of Black youth-in-care in Ontario; 3) policy and agency documents concerning how this group is faring. In our analysis of the AAR and its education dimension, findings suggest the AAR has been a race-neutral tool, which has implications in terms of how we conceptualize structural barriers faced by Black children and youth-in-care. We identified gaps and potential practice dilemmas for child welfare workers when using AAR documentation procedures. Using Critical Race Theory and the United Nations human rights framework, we argue that the AAR can be a tool to identify, monitor, and challenge oppression for Black children and youth-in-care who experience a continual negotiation of racialization alongside being a foster child. The AAR recordings can be harmful if they are simply a collection of information on the key areas of a child’s life. Prioritizing the academic needs of Black children in care is critical to social work and aligns with the commitments of One Vision, One Voice, Ontario’s Anti-Racism Strategic Plan as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly in relation to the right to education.
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