Archive for July, 2010

Mothercraft’s course for settlement workers: Caring for Canada’s Children, Year 2

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Mothercraft, with funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, will  offer a 2nd year of their ‘Caring for Canada’s Children’ webinar/in-class course for practitioners working with newcomer children and families. The series builds on year one and will “delve further into the issues that many newcomer families face through the immigration process. This examination will be done through presentations, case studies and practical interactive learning opportunities” (Source: Email blast to former participants).

Archived presentations from Year 1 are available here in English and also here in French.

Year 2 offerings:

  1. Building cross-cultural competence (Sept 22, 2010)
  2. Building trusting relationships with families: Towards a motivational understanding of change (Oct 13, 2010)
  3. Promoting children’s mental health (Nov 10, 2010)
  4. Understanding attachment: How early relationships influence the brain’s architecture (Dec 8, 2010)
  5. Building circles of support through service coordination (Jan 19, 2011)
  6. Developing relationships with child welfare services (Feb 16, 2011).

For more information, including how to register, visit the Mothercraft Caring for Canada’s Children website.

Caring for newcomer children: Tip sheets from CMAS

Monday, July 19th, 2010

The Childminding Monitoring, Advisory and Support initiative (CMAS), the federally funded organization mandated to monitor and support childminding services associated with LINC programs (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) has produced a series of tip sheets for both caregivers of newcomer children, and administrators of childminding programs.

The current set includes “Inclusion in Newcomer Children’s Programs” and “Building the Caregiver Infant Relationship”. Download the PDF tip sheets here.

Mothercraft’s Caring for Canada’s Children webinar series

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Mothercraft‘s Caring for Canada’s Children webinar series for settlement workers (announced on immigrantchildren.ca in Sept, 2009), has concluded. The series of 12 online lectures is now available for viewing at their archives page set up here. The series is also available in French.

Call for proposals: Young Scholars program, Child Development Fellowship (US)

Friday, July 16th, 2010

US-based, The Foundation for Child Development: Changing Faces of America’s Children – Young Scholars Program has issued a call for proposals. The goals of the program are to (From the call as posted on the NAME listserv):

*   Stimulate both basic and policy-relevant research about the early education, health and well-being of immigrant children from birth to age 10, particularly those who are living in low-income families.
*   Support the career development of young investigators-from the behavioral and social sciences or in an allied professional field-to attain tenure or who have received tenure in the last four years from a college or university in the United States.

Eligible researchers will have earned their doctoral degrees within the last 15 years, and be full-time, tenure-track, faculty members of a college or university in the United States.  Applicants must hold a Ph.D. or its equivalent in one of the behavioral and social sciences or in an alliedprofessional field (e.g., public policy, public health, education, social work, nursing, medicine).  Three to four fellowships of up to $150,000 for use over one to three years (and in rare cases, up to five years) will be awarded competitively. Please note tenure equivalent positions are not eligible for the fellowship.

Deadline is November 3, 2010. For more information, see the web-page here. Questions should be sent to ysp@fcd-us.org.

House of Commons report: Best practices in settlement services

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

In March, 2010, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration released their report “Best Practices in Settlement Services“. It includes six recommendations:

Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada develop a proposal for an interactive website on best practices in settlement services. The aim of the proposal should be to have an operational website in fiscal year 2011-2012.

Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada, through Citizenship and Immigration Canada, judge joint proposals for settlement funding favourably and indicate this clearly on the application form.

Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue to support and expand Local Immigration Partnerships in Ontario and explore the potential of local immigration partnership pilot projects in other interested provinces.

Recommendation 4: The Committee recommends that, subject to provincial jurisdiction, Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Modernized Approach to Settlement Programming should be flexible such that business and self-employment support programs can be included in the theme of “labour market participation;” and mental health and family counselling can be included in the theme of “support services”.

Recommendation 5: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada permit greater flexibility in determining the length of time individuals are eligible for particular settlement services.

Recommendation 6: The Committee recommends, subject to provincial jurisdiction, that the Government of Canada include trauma counselling and school support as eligible activities under the Resettlement Assistance Program.

Children were mentioned a few times in the report.

One of the witnesses to the committee spoke about the value of child-minding services being available alongside the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. While safe and adequate ‘care’ for children of LINC participants is important, the government of Canada is missing an opportunity to support newcomer children in their own settlement and integration process. Beyond the current child-minding and ostensibly custodial care service, a comprehensive early learning and child care program that meets the specific settlement and integration needs of newcomer children – with consideration to the child’s age, developmental level and an understanding of the child’s migration journey – would well serve Canada and Canada’s youngest citizens-to-be.

Indeed, other witnesses spoke of the success of programs for school-age children. In BC. Langley Community Services Society provides “intensive early childhood development support as well as orientation and assistance in settlement”. I applaud this program, but the government of Canada is missing the optimal window for learning if it only funds such programs for children of school-age. We know that the early years (birth to age six) set the foundation for the child’s lifelong health, behaviour and learning.

Under Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s new Modernization Approach, funding is available in six areas: 1.Information and orientation, 2. Language and skills development, 3. Labour market participation, 4. Community connections, 5. Needs assessments and referrals, and 6. Support services.

Currently, child-minding lands in the “support services” theme, but I’d argue that quality early learning and child care, with particular attention to the settlement and integration needs of even the youngest of newcomer children fits in all of the six areas and warrants more investment from the federal government.

1. Information and orientation.  Children and parents alike need information and orientation to their new community. Even the youngest child benefits from a deliberate orientation to Canadian customs, expectations and values. The trick is to deliver such programming in developmentally appropriate ways. Luckily, Canada has trained Early Childhood Educators who can (and do) provide this. Parents require information and orientation about the same things, but at a higher level. In order to support their child’s growth and development and learning, they also need to learn about the range of services and supports available for young children in their community.

2. Language and skills development. An obvious area for both children and adults with the important  stipulation that the child’s home language(s) be supported and promoted while learning English and/or French.

3. Labour market participation. If the federal government, through Citizenship and Immigration Canada, is serious about supporting the labour market participation of newcomers, they must see the value in child care. Not the custodial, child-minding model, but a high quality early learning model that will support newcomer children’s entry to and success in the formal school system.

4. Community connections. An extension of the information and orientation theme, we know that social support is a health determinant indicator. Newcomer children and parents need welcoming communities. It’s an important aspect of integration.

5. Needs assessments and referrals. One of the best places to get accurate, responsive referrals is within a welcoming community that knows the family. Pulling together all of the above areas, it seems reasonable to conclude that the best referrals and clearest needs assessments would come out of a collaborative approach to settlement – and a comprehensive one that acknowledges the importance of serving children, parents, the entire newcomer family.

The committee has requested that the government table a response. When they do, I hope they add and implement a seventh recommendation: that the Government of Canada address the specific integration, settlement and language needs of newcomer children and strive to provide funding across all themes. That would be thoroughly modern.

Naseeha: The Muslim kids help line

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Today’s Globe and Mail (G&M) reports on a story about a young Christian woman who converted to Islam as a teen, without her parent’s knowledge. She empathizes with Aqsa Parvez and other teens who are not in step with their parents beliefs. She wishes she had someone to talk to when she was navigating/negotiating her beliefs with her parents.

The story tells us that such help is available: a help line, called Naseeha, or “advice” in Arabic has been in existence since 2005 and operates out of Mississauga. Ostensibly, like the Kids Help Phone line (est. 1989) the advice line provides advice and support, but specifically support to Muslim youth who are, according to the story experiencing “the pull between two worlds”. The now 27-year Muslim convert says the murder of Aqsa Parvez and other so-called “honour killings” are not Muslim issues, but cultural issues and that phone lines like Naseeha respond to the specific issues experienced by newcomer children and youth.

If you surf over to Kids Help Phone, you can see that among the FAQ kids pose are questions related to discrimination, prejudice, diversity and inclusion. The G&M says that Tarek Fatah, a frequent critic of Fundamentalist Muslim practices in Canada, calls the advice line “anti-Western” and believes advice provided would be critical of Canadian ways.

In response, the co-founder of Naseeha defends the need for a separate advice line: ‘You have a Mercedes, you take it to a Mercedes mechanic’. Further: “We lead them to the facts in the Koran, and to what they want to do. We don’t decide on someone’s behalf”.

What do you think? Do immigrant/refugee children and youth need a separate advice help line?

Call for proposals: CIC & Multiculturalism

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Inter-Action is the new Multiculturalism Grants program, administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

From the latest funding call:

“The Program supports CIC’s mandate and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act by assisting the socio-economic integration of individuals and communities and their contributions to building an integrated and socially cohesive society”.

“Priority areas under consideration for this call are: Youth, including youth at risk; Faith communities and organizations; Immigrants. Themes focus on: Citizenship rights and responsibilities; Facilitating positive interaction among different cultural, ethnic and religious communities in Canada”.

For more information, including application forms and details on applying, see the CIC site and the Settlement At Work site.

Deadline for applications is Oct 15, 2010.

Canada Post stamp to commemorate 2010 Year of the British Home Child

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

 Stamp set

Canada has declared 2010 Year of the British Home Child to acknowledge the child emigration scheme that brought over 100,000 children from Britain to Canada from 1826 to 1939. Under the guise of providing a welcoming home for poor, abandoned and orphaned children, a great many of these children came to Canada and served as farm labourers and domestic servants and endured lives of abuse from the people who acquired them.

On Sept 1, 2010, Canada Post will issue a stamp in recognition of the British Home Child. From the Canada Post catalogue: “The stamp features an image of the SS Sardinian (a ship that carried children from Liverpool to Quebec), a map symbolizing their cross-Atlantic journey, a photograph of a child at work on a farm and one of a rewly arrived Home Child, standing beside a suitcase while en route to a distributing home in Hamilton, Ontario”.