mother with son

The Positive Parenting Pilot Project

Research Team:  Saara Greene (nominated principal investigator), Doris O’Brein-Teengs (co-principal investigator), Gary Dumbrill (co-principal investigator), Mona Loutfy, Allyson Ion, Wanda Whitebird, Maureen Ringlein, Martha Wiles, Kerrigan Beaver, Bruce Leslie, Renee Masching, Wangari Tharao, Ruthann Tucker, Andy Koster, Sandra Seigei, Lyndon George

What is this research about?

While the broader systemic issues that bring mothers living with HIV to the attention of child welfare are not dissimilar to other mothers in Canada, these challenges are exacerbated for Indigenous, African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) mothers living with HIV. These challenges are characterized by their experiences of navigating a web of shelter, housing, immigration services, and histories of racism, colonization, residential schools and intergenerational trauma while at the same, confronting HIV related stigma with in all of these health and social contexts.

In the Ontario child welfare context, past experiences of HIV-related stigma and fears related to the stigmatizing impact of disclosure on their relationship with their social workers are of particular concern to Indigenous and ACB mothers. Moreover, studies have shown that women view themselves as vulnerable targets of child welfare agencies simply because of their HIV status. Consequently, there is an urgent need for increased collaboration between health and social service agencies, AIDS service organizations working with families affected by HIV and the Children’s AIDS Society in Ontario (CAS).

This project developed, implemented and evaluated HIV knowledge translation education and training tools to support families affected by HIV who are at risk of or are involved with CAS and to strengthen the ability of CAS agencies across Ontario to provide anti-oppressive services to HIV-affected families from diverse communities. The community-based research team worked closely with both the positive parenting advisory board and the Service Provider Advisory Board. The team also partnered with three Ontario Social Work and Social Service Worker programs and four Children’s AIDS Societies for training development and delivery.


In total, 76 social work students and 60 CAS workers participated in the pilot training. Pre-pilot testing revealed that few of these professionals were knowledgeable about transmission, treatment, the social and emotional impact of HIV, criminalization, or the existence of HIV specific services, Participants in the training not only increased their understanding in all of these areas but also acknowledged a commitment to act as advocates for these families creating a cadre of more knowledgeable professionals within the Ontario system. This model training is also being used to create a manual for ongoing training of these health professionals.

OHTN Support:

This project is supported by an OHTN project grant of $79,980 awarded in 2013.

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