The Vancouver Board of Education’s Settlement Workers in School (SWIS) Program is a school-based settlement service that provides direct and immediate professional assistance to immigrant, refugee and eligible temporary resident students and their families after their arrival in Vancouver and registration in the public schools. Settlement workers facilitate the adjustment, adaptation, and integration of newcomer families during their initial years in Canada.
Established in August of 2007, the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) Program of the Vancouver School Board (VSB) has 23 settlement workers placed in Vancouver’s 110 K-12 public schools where they serve all newcomer families in English. In addition, settlement workers have particular expertise in the culture and home language of immigrants who speak Arabic, Cantonese, Farsi, Filipino, French, German, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.
Since its inception, the SWIS Program has annually served more than 12,000 students and their family members, and delivered more than 300 informative workshops on a wide range of school– and settlement-related topics.
At the Board’s District Reception and Placement Centre (DRPC), settlement workers welcome and make first contact with newcomer families. While new student registrants write the assessment test, parents attend an information session on the BC school system and SWIS services. Settlement workers also provide families additional information about school and community resources. They then refer newcomer families to specific services in the community as well as school based on the needs assessment and action planning conducted by settlement workers during the intake interview. Settlement workers do regular follow-up calls or meet with students and families to give them updates about settlement services, respond to new needs or simply maintain a professional connection with them. The SWIS team works collaboratively with school personnel (administrators, teachers, counsellors, Multicultural Liaison Workers (MCLW), youth and family workers, and other staff), and connects families to community and government service agencies which provide them with a supportive network of resources.
In 2010, the SWIS program expanded to include the Engaged Immigrant Youth Program (EIYP). With this added focus, the SWIS program was re-name, the Enhanced Settlement Workers in School Program thereby allocating specific resources, expertise and support to immigrant and refugee youth in secondary schools ( for details see: http://www.vsb.bc.ca/engaged-immigrant-youth).
Contact information for SWIS
VSB-SWIS is committed to providing professional settlement services to immigrants, refugees, other eligible students and families by: embracing diversity, advocating empowerment and facilitating engagement in schools and the Canadian society.
To be the leader in providing professional school-based settlement services that will empower and support immigrants, refugees, other eligible students and families to enable them to fully participate in a culturally-diverse society.
SWIS PROGRAM GOALS
- To inform the clients (students, parents and families) about the various Canadian standards and practices and their rights and responsibilities.
- To enable the student and parents to reach their full potential so they can navigate effectively in the school system and community.
- To empower the immigrants to adjust better in Canada
- To promote SWIS roles and responsibilities to the general public
- To elevate the level of competence and bring about a systemic change in the program delivery
- To be recognized as a professional settlement service provider
SWIS PROGRAM OBJECTIVES
- To increase the client’s capability to adjust faster and better in a new environment through regular information, education and communication activities
- To execute model programs and approaches in settlement service that will empower the students and families to become self-reliant.
- To develop a ‘SWIS brand’ that is simple and easy to understand and remember.
- To maintain a positive SWIS image through continuous orientation and relationship-building in schools and communities.
The SWIS logo focuses on animated energy and flow. It clearly reflects the connection between three people who have joined hands in an upward direction. This is synonymous with the type of service the SWIS program offers. It guides and empowers the newcomer families to eventually become self-sufficient. The three solid colours represent passion, growth and loyalty. They also depict the unity of the SWIS Team in their continuing efforts to provide professional settlement services.
From an aerial perspective, the people have open arms, portraying the “welcoming” value of the SWIS Team who embraces diversity.
Free session for the newcomer parents presented by Vancouver School Board Settlement Workers in Schools. For more information: