CMAS | Care for Newcomer Children launches a parenting webpage

CMAS | Care for Newcomer Children * is a federally funded program that provides supports, resources, and helps organizations, to provide culturally appropriate child care for newcomer families participating in the Language Instruction for Newcomers in Canada program.

They have just launched a section on Parenting in their website. The Parenting pages provide useful information and resources, including multilingual resources in:

Parenting ~ information to help newcomer families adjust to parenting in Canada, including multilingual resources covering general parenting practices

Child development ~ information, resources and ideas to encourage the cognitive, social, emotional, and language development of children

Health and safety ~ information on nutrition, immunizations, mental health, physical activity guidelines, and product recall information

School readiness ~ information on how to support a smooth transition to the school system.

*CMAS (formerly known as Childminding Advisory and Support Services) is  funded through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and was founded in 2000.  More recently, it supports and promotes the care for newcomer children model. “Childminding” is no longer used.

Yo Cuento: Latin American immigrant children tell their stories

How (well) do immigrant children adjust to new shores? Researcher Monica Valencia, Ryerson University, asked a group of children to answer the question through drawings.

She found that there were 4 themes in the children’s drawings:

  1. Sadness (leaving behind family, friends, neighbourhood)
  2. Anxiety (unfamiliar, sometimes hostile environment)
  3. Frustration (so much new to learn! Language, customs)
  4. Gratitude for friendship (peer support critical to happy integration).

Read more about this research in a 2014 article written by The Toronto Star’s immigration reporter, Nicholas Keung,

See more immigration related stories by Keung here.

Comic books for children to learn about refugees

Comics for Youth Refugees Incorporated Collective (CYRIC), believes that children can learn from, and refugee children can benefit from a comic book that tells common Syrian folk tales. The comic is called Haawiyat and is written band illustrated by y  a number of international folks. (English version here).

Recently CYRIC gave away copies in  Gaziantep, Turkey and are seeking crowdfunding to produce a second, and bigger, edition. crowdfunding platform Razoo

Source: @TeamRefugees & @robsalk

Top 10 moments for immigrant and refugee children in Canada, 2015

10. Syrian refugee children are welcomed to Canada with a dedicated play area at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. #WelcomeRefugees starts trending! Shared by @viraniarif.

9. The 1000 Schools Challenge rallies Canadian schools to welcome refugee children. Shared by @SetAtWork.

8. StatsCan releases report on immigrant children’s performance in math vs. their Canadian-born peers. Research matters! Shared by @StatCan_eng.

7. Syrian refugee children: A Guide for welcoming young children and their families is released. Shared by @CMASCanada.

6. The UNHCR & COSTI holds a Human Rights Child & Youth Poetry Contest. Art matters! Shared by @marcopolis.

5. The 2015 Prosperity Index names Canada the most tolerant country in the world. Shared by @CGBrandonLee.

4. Forty-six visible minorities are elected in #Elxn42. If they can see it, they can be it! Shared by @Andrew_Griffith.

3. Canada elects a government with a self-proclaimed feminist prime minister, who creates a Cabinet committee on diversity and inclusion, puts refugees in the immigration portfolio, and who returns the multiculturalism file to Canadian Heritage.

2.Trent University recognizes child care champion Martha Friendly with an honourary PhD. Martha is an advocate for inclusive, culturally-appropriate child care and early childhood education for all children in Canada. Shared by @TorontoStar.

1. immigrantchildren.ca shares policy advice with new Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, The Honourable John McCallum. Shared by @immigranttalk. (Shameless self-promotion).

Cabinet committee on diversity and inclusion: Opportunities regarding immigrant children and families

The Trudeau government yesterday released details on cabinet committees. Among them, one on diversity and inclusion, whose purpose is to “Consider(s) issues concerning the social fabric of Canada and the promotion of Canadian pluralism. Examines initiatives designed to strengthen the relationship with Indigenous Canadians, improve the economic performance of immigrants, and promote Canadian diversity, multiculturalism, and linguistic duality“.

Lots of opportunities here to address, support, and promote needs of immigrant and refugee children, youth, and families. In terms of improving the economic performance of immigrants, the Trudeau government is encouraged to (continue to) work with the early learning and child care community and implement a pan-Canadian child care system that is regulated, publicly-funded, high-quality, accessible and affordable, and culturally-appropriate.

Regarding linguistic duality, while immigrantchildren.ca recognizes that French and English are the two official languages of Canada, we invite the cabinet committee on diversity and inclusion to learn about the importance of supporting and promoting a child’s home language (or, L1 as it is sometimes referred to). Research demonstrates that children learning to speak a new language, who are supported and encouraged to use their home language, accomplish this task better. Communities and policies need to explore ways to help children retain their home language while they also learn the language(s) of their new home.

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The Chair of the cabinet committee on diversity and inclusion is the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, John McCallum. The Co-Chair is Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. Members of the committee include:

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs | @Carolyn_Bennett | carolyn.bennett@parl.gc.ca

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Justice Minister and Attorney General | @Puglaas

Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development | Jean-Yves.Duclos@parl.gc.ca |@jyduclos

Marie Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie |  @mclaudebibeau

Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions | Maryam.Monsef@parl.gc.ca | @MaryamMonsef

Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities | @CQualtro

Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women |

Bradish Chaggar, Minister of Small Business and Tourism | @BardishKW

All Ministers and Members of Parliament can be written, postage-free, to: The House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6.

Building our capacity to support transitions of immigrant/refugee children and youth

BCs Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies (AMSSA) have released a report post their provincial learning exchange on the topic of Building capacity to support transitions of immigrant and refugee children and youth held this summer.

There were several goals for the event:

– to create opportunities for learning about current and emerging research and best practices

– to increase the skills, knowledge and practice of service providers who work with immigrant and refugee children and youth

– for networking, learning from each other and meeting new colleagues

– to re-energize and develop synergy amongst the different sub-sectors

– to identify emerging issues and priorities for future work and development.

The report includes background, goals and overviews and discusses what is called three big ideas for serving newcomer children and youth: Settlement, culture, and readiness.

Call for papers: International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

The International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care is (from their website) “a multidisciplinary journal focusing on international migration. The journal’s focus includes coverage of labour migration, asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented migrants, with an emphasis on health and social care and mental health issues.

“The following themes are of particular interest to the journal:
– Health care of migrants and refugees
– Impact of displacement on health and social care needs
– Treatment of refugee children
– Impact of family separation
– Human trafficking
– Integration of migrants and refugees”.

Submissions should be sent to the Editor, Professor Charles Watters at charles.watters@rutgers.edu

Author Guidelines.

Call for papers: Children and war

Call for Papers: “Children and War: Past and Present”. 2nd international and multidisciplinary conference, July 10-12, 2013 at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Organized by the University of Salzburg and the University of Wolverhampton, in association with the United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

From the Forced Migration listserv:

“This conference is planned as a follow-up to the first conference, which took place at the University of Salzburg in 2010. It will continue to build on areas previously investigated, and also open up new fields of academic enquiry.

“All research proposals which focus on a topic and theme related to ‘Children and War’ are welcome, ranging from the experience of war, flight, displacement and resettlement, to relief, rehabilitation and reintegration work, gender issues, persecution, trafficking, sexual violence, trauma and amnesia, the trans-generational impact of persecution, individual and collective memory, educational issues, films and documentaries, artistic and literary approaches, remembrance and memorials, and questions of theory and methodology. Specific conference themes anticipated are:
– Children as victims, witnesses and participants in armed conflict
– Holocaust, genocide and forced labour
– Deportation and displacement, refugees and asylum seekers
– War crimes, trials and human rights

“A special focus will be on the ‘Changing nature of armed conflict and its impact on children’. In the past two decades, UN reports, including the 1996 study by Graça Machel and its 10-year review, noted with concern that the character and tactics of armed conflict are changing, creating new and unprecedented threats to children. Characteristics of the changing nature of warfare include the blurring of lines between military and civilian targets, the use of new technologies and the absence of clear battlefields and identifiable opponents. Extensive research is needed to deal with challenges emerging from this context, including the use of children as suicide bombers, the deliberate targeting of traditional safe havens such as schools and hospitals, the detention and prosecution of children associated with armed groups, and terrorism and the use of counter-terrorism measures (for more information, please see the ‘Note by OSRSG-CAAC’).

“Please send an abstract of 200-250 words, together with biographical background information of 50-100 words by *31 July 2012* to: J.D.Steinert@wlv.ac.uk. All proposals are subject to a review process. Successful candidates will be informed in October 2012 and will be asked to send in their papers by the end of April 2013 for distribution among conference participants on a CD. Further information will be made available in due time. The organizers intend to publish a selection of conference papers”.

For more information, please contact J.D.Steinert@wlv.ac.uk.

“I don’t feel human” ~ The plight of young refugees and migrants in the UK

The Children’s Society is a UK-based charity that is “committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including safeguarding children in care and young runaways”. The Children’s Society campaigns and research seek to influence policy on and give voice to marginalized children, including young refugees. In February, they released a report on the state of young refugees and migrants in the UK. From the announcement:

In “I don’t feel human”, we examine available data on the extent and impact of destitution, and speak to young migrants and the people who work to support them. The report sets out the devastating impact being destitute has on children, young people and families.

“This is an issue for young people who come to seek protection in the UK alone but have been refused asylum and so are left in limbo.

“Having fled danger in their country of birth, these young people are exposed to danger and harm in this country because they are excluded from support and accommodation. They remain hidden from view and have to survive with minimal resources.

“This is also an issue for children in migrant families who may not have an asylum claim but who become destitute for various reasons including domestic violence and family breakdown. Yet due to immigration restrictions they are unable to access support and their parents are not allowed to work in order to pull them out of poverty”.

The Drummond Commission recommendations on immigration (and the missed opportunities to address immigrant children/families)

There has been much examination and discussion of the recommendations of the recently released Drummond Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (struck by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan). immigrantchildren.ca notes that the Commission has lost the opportunity to highlight and promote the importance of addressing both the needs of immigrant families with young children – and the contribution that immigrant parents can make to the Ontario economy if these needs are supported.

In the introduction, “The Economic Importance of Immigration”, the Drummond report says:

“By attracting skilled workers from abroad, Ontario can better address potential labour-market shortages. Maintaining labour-force growth, aided by successful immigrants, can help sustain Ontario’s long-term economic growth”.

immigrantchildren.ca believes that immigrant parents may be able to contribute economically by participating in the labour force, but only if they are secure in their child care arrangements. Current federal initiatives for child care are almost absent. There is an opportunity for the federal government to partner with the provinces to ensure that culturally appropriate child care is made available to newcomers.

This introduction ends with the bold statement: “In short, future trends in immigration and the degree to which Ontario can successfully integrate new arrivals into the province’s labour market and social fabric will have a significant effect on Ontario’s fiscal fortunes”. The Drummond report makes a case for ensuring that social supports are in place for immigrants in order for them to contribute to the economy through labour force participation. Child care is one such social support. We wonder how it was overlooked.

In the Commission’s section on immigration, seven recommendations are made. With respect to each of the recommendations, immigrantchildren.ca has some initial thoughts. We invite more discussion, debate and comment. (Drummond report recommendations in bold, with comments in italics following).

Recommendation 10-1: Develop a position on immigration policies that is in the province’s best economic and social interests. Present this position to the federal government with the expectation that, as the largest recipient of immigrants in Canada, Ontario’s interest will be given considerable weight in federal policy development.

What is in the best interest is the development of fully funded culturally appropriate child care system that will support immigrant parents’ participation in the labour force. The federal government should, alongside, develop federal policy on child care for newcomer families that meets the needs not only of the national economy, but the social benefits of immigrant parents participation in the workforce if there is acceptable child care available, affordable and accessible to newcomers.

Recommendation 10-2: Catalyze national discussions on immigration policy as the successful integration of immigrants is critical for Canada’s and Ontario’s economic futures.

Few programs support integration better than community-based early learning and child care programs. Situated in public schools (as proposed in the full day kindergarten program of the McGuinty government), culturally appropriate child care for newcomer children – indeed, for all children – is a key catalyst to promotion of Canadian values and an optimal welcoming point for children and parents alike.

Recommendation 10-3: Advocate the federal government for a greater provincial role in immigrant selection to ensure that the level and mix of immigrants coming to Ontario is optimized to support economic prosperity and improve outcomes for immigrants. Barring success, advocate for an expanded Provincial Nominee Program.

The PNP might also explore age of the children of immigrants recruited through it. If Canada and Ontario are to thrive, the “level and mix” of immigrants must include children from birth to age eight and a PNP is well positioned to address this gap.

Recommendation 10-4: Press the federal government to be more transparent in its refugee policies and practices and to compensate Ontario for the costs of providing additional social supports to refugees and refugee claimants.

In our discussions and recommendations for ‘culturally appropriate child care’, it must be noted that refugee children have significantly different needs than children of immigrants who choose to emigrate. Services and supports for refugee children and youth must be developed with these specific needs in mind.

Recommendation 10-6: Streamline and integrate provincially delivered integration and settlement services for recent immigrants with Employment Ontario.

Within the discussion for recommendations 5 & 6 is found the statement “Two of the key drivers of labour-market success for immigrants are a working knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages and educational credentials that are accepted by regulatory bodies and potential employers”. While immigrantchildren.ca would agree that language and credentials are key, the Drummond report misses the mark by neglecting to consider the importance of child care for any working parent.

Recommendation 10-7: Advocate for devolving federal immigrant settlement and training programs to the province…

Again, we would argue that any settlement funding agreement with the federal government should include start-up and ongoing funds for child care.

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The Commission cites a number of studies in its report including one by Mr Drummond himself that clearly articulates and recognizes the value of high quality child care. See D. Drummond, and F, Fong, “The Changing Canadian Workplace”, TD Economics, TD Bank Financial Group, 2010.

“…the higher incidence of part-time employment is caused, in part, by the cultural notion that women remain the primary caretaker of a family. As such, full-time employment is most likely not an option for many women as this would imply foregoing time to tend to household responsibilities. This also speaks to the poor state of childcare options available to many Canadians. Among comparative advanced nations in the OECD, Canada spends the smallest share of its GDP on early childhood education and care (ECEC) for those aged 0-6. At just 0.25% of GDP, this is extremely distant from the 1.5%-2% range spent by the Scandinavian countries. And since ECEC spending falls under provincial jurisdiction, the 0.25% figure is an aver- age across the provinces and is likely skewed by the heavy subsidization in Quebec where, for example, the $7 per day childcare provides for many lower income parents. Hence, regardless of the fact that Canada has one of the highest female participation rates in the world, participation in childcare services for children under the age of 3 is only in the middle of the pack among the OECD”.

Another report cited by the Commission is Fernando Mata, “The Non-Accreditation of Immigrant Professionals in Canada: Societal Dimensions of the Problem”, Department of Canadian Heritage, 1999:

“A recent example is a survey of the accreditation problems faced by immigrant women in the nursing, teaching and social work professions in partnership with the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women in Canada (NOIVMWC). The report coming out from the survey revealed that immigrant women with professional degrees, in addition to the common problems faced by male counterparts, were more negatively affected by “lack of services and resources in the areas of childcare and language training”.

The Commission rightfully relied on a careful examination of the literature in addition to its consultations. The literature findings, including Mr. Drummond’s own work, clearly sees the value of a system of high quality early learning and child care as an employment support and a support to integration of newcomers, but it failed to include child care as a recommendation to the people of Ontario. As such, it has failed immigrant families.