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I Am Your Children's Aid

January 16, 2010 permalink

The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies is pulling out all stops to change its image. They will be returning all children removed by force from Ontario mothers and fathers. Oops, better start over.

The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies is pulling out all stops to change its image. They are running an advertising campaign titled: "I Am Your Children's Aid". The campaign has been under development for two years, and features thirteen people telling their stories, nine of them recipients of money or children from children's aid. It took two years to find three graduates and one mother willing to say good things about children's aid.



CAS campaign aims to change people's perspective


The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies is pulling out all stops to change its image.

Hastings CAS executive director Len Kennedy said the OACAS has launched a provincial campaign dubbed "I Am Your Children's Aid," aimed at shifting the perception and securing more public support for Ontario's Children's Aid Societies.

"It's been two years in the development and finally it's starting to be rolled out," Kennedy said during Wednesday's CAS board meeting. "It's a provincial strategy we supported from the outset, has been needed to help communities understand the important work children's aid societies do."

He said the advertising blitz hitting airwaves across the province this month will enable more public transparency and ease the increased media scrutiny of the agency, blasted for been unable to tackle its $67 million shortfall.

The campaign was launched after a two-year market research study started in 2007 discovered the work of Ontario's child welfare agencies is recognized by most Ontarians, but the message from CASs is not resonating, Kennedy explained.

He said the study also revealed the work done by CASs is not well understood by most Ontarians and the work done by child welfare professionals remains obscure.

The survey of 800 Ontarians showed that 87 per cent of Ontarians know that CAS places children in foster homes but just 54 per cent know that agencies also place children in adoptive families.

The ads are currently being run on television networks such as Global and print outlets such as the Globe and Mail. Kennedy said the same ads can be heard and seen locally in The Intelligencer, on CKWS Television, and a string of radio stations.

The stories used in the ads will be told through the experiences of children, youth in care, foster parents and workers in 30 second sound bites, Kennedy said.

While the local CAS is not in a dire financial situation, Kennedy said other agencies across the sector are battling an uncertain future.

He said the ads are aimed at getting people more involved with agencies across the province. He said there has been an evolution of thinking through all the member agencies that the CAS has to take some responsibility for its brand and profile.

"Market research told us that people don't understand enough about what we do or have a full impression of the kind of things that we are involved in," he said. "We needed to invest more effort and some resources in getting the word out there."

Kennedy said ideally there should be a local component morphed into the current advertising blitz to put emphasis on stories in our region. He conceded there is currently no production money to bring these local stories to life.

"We might see if there is a way to find some local stories to supplement the provincial advertisements," he said. "Maybe there is some modest projects we can do to get a couple of short video or audio clips developed."

Source: Belleville Intelligencer