Pull out your favourite grape-coloured garb this Wednesday and show your support for Dress Purple Day.

An annual event organized by the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, Dress Purple Day is designed to raise awareness about the important role that individuals and communities play in supporting vulnerable children, youth and families and helping them get the resources they need. The event is designed to build stronger partnerships with cross-sector service providers to focus on strengthening families through enhanced community-based prevention and early intervention.

“Dress Purple Day is more important than ever, since the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional stressors for families, and in some cases has increased the risk for the well-being and safety of children and youth,” said Jennifer McLauchlan, executive director of the Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society (KHCAS). “On Oct. 27, we are calling on all Ontarians to wear some purple to show children, youth and families that they are here to help.

In the organization’s 2020/21 fiscal year, 141 families residing in Haliburton County accessed programming provided by KHCAS. The organization offers four core services – adoption, foster care and alternative care for children, child maltreatment aid, and support services.

KHCAS works with many other service providers across Haliburton County to support children, youth and families, and collaborates with community partners to speak up for every child and youth’s right to safety and well-being in all spaces, says McLauchlan.


While the organization used to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month in October, the child welfare sector no longer marks the occasion.

“Vulnerable and marginalized families, especially from the Black and African Canadian community, have told us that the campaign’s emphasis on reporting led to an unwarranted increase in surveillance of their families and communities, says Nicole Bonnie, CEO of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. “In many ways, the former Child Abuse Prevention campaign was more harmful than helpful.”

On the contrary, Bonnie says the Dress Purple Day campaign is all about reminding anyone making referrals to child welfare to “check their biases.”

“We know that racism, prejudice and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, ability, poverty and sexual orientation can lead to the overreporting and oversurveillance of families in certain communities,” Bonnie said.

McLauchlan says there are other ways, aside from wearing purple, that people can participate and show their support on Wednesday, including: participating in social media using the hashtag #IDressPurpleBecause; putting up one of the Dress Purple Day posters, found at oacas.org, in your workplace; and using the web banner, found at oacas.org, for your workplace website.

To learn more about the signs of child abuse or neglect and how to report concerns, visit www.khcas.on.ca.

Get The Highlander in your inbox every Thursday