Approaches to Practice in Emergency Contexts: Post-Disaster Outlook on Black Communities in Toronto

Throughout the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vulnerability of Black and other racialized communities in Canada emerged as a key concern for health and social service providers, policymakers, and researchers. A compounding of structurally generated inequalities affected income, access to health and social services, and susceptibility to contracting COVID-19. Black communities were a focal point that provided evidence to this disproportionate impact of the pandemic. This research presents findings of a grounded theory study of 20 front-line staff who provide social services at a Toronto-based agency. Utilizing a survey and in-depth interviews, the study explored how social service provisions to Black communities were understood and implemented and what the prospects were for future preparedness. Conceptually, a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) logic and a resilience lens were utilized to examine the agency’s capacity for developing sustainable partnerships with vulnerable communities, as framed by SDG 11—Sustainable Cities and (Inclusive and Resilient) Communities, and SDG 17—Sustainable Partnerships. Findings illustrate a sustainability challenge for supporting Black communities. The study recommends research on, and the utilization of practice models based on community-based resilience initiatives (CRIs) and an SDG logic in social service agencies to support interventions based on collaboration, inclusivity, and resilience in emergencies.

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Journal of Social Service Research