Settlement Workers in Schools

Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS)

The first few years in Canada can be difficult for new immigrants. It is particularly challenging for newcomer students and their families to navigate the Canadian education system. Traditionally, newcomers have had little access to community services in the schools. CultureLink Settlement Services, in partnership with Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the school boards, have teamed up to place settlement workers in selected schools and Reception and Assessment Centres. There are SWIS programs in selected communities across Ontario, and CultureLink runs Toronto’s Cluster 5 Settlement and Education Partnerships in Toronto (SEPT) program.

SEPT strives to promote settlement and foster student achievement by providing information and referral services to newly arrived families in the school and community at large. Settlement workers make every reasonable effort to contact all potential clients regardless of their immigration status. The settlement needs of elementary-school-aged children are best met by providing outreach and services to their parents or guardians, while the settlement needs of youth are best met by providing outreach and services direct to them. Service areas include support with English language acquisition, employment, immigration, and more.

Newcomer Orientation Week (NOW)

For many newcomer students, high schools in Ontario may be very different and challenging and the first few months can be particularly stressful. To give students a better start and assist in their adjustment to life in a Canadian high school, the NOW program provides a range of information and experiences for newly arrived youth for one week before the school year begins, with the support of student mentors known as Peer Leaders, along with settlement workers and teachers. In this fun and engaging environment, the NOW activities prepare newcomer youth for a smooth entry into school, reducing their stress about the transition and preparing them for participation in school life and activities.