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 and Community Services, in partnership with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Toronto (TDSB) and the Toronto Catholic District School Boards (TCDSB) have a long-standing partnership to support newcomer families and their children. Program Workers are placed in schools and Reception Centres to facilitate access to information for newcomers. There are five SWIS programs in Toronto as well as in selected communities across Ontario and Canada. CultureLink delivers SWIS in Cluster 5 as a part of Settlement and Education Partnerships in Toronto (SEPT).
The SWIS Program 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. Program Workers work closely with schools to receive referrals and provide support to families and youth as soon as possible after their initial registration in school. 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 met by providing direct support to youth. Service areas include information to other government settlement services including English language, employment and immigration as well as health, housing, parenting, community services and more.
To enhance program activities, SWIS engages with many partner organizations to bring numerous arts-based and outdoor-based activities to our participants. Among these partners are Soulpepper-CultureLink New Canadian Welcome Program as well as their Youth Link school-based activities, Project Canoe, Amici Charities and Kids Up Front Foundation.