#CdnImm Event #7 - Information & Referral in Settlement Services
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM (EDT)
North York Central Library Auditorium, 5120 Yonge St
Information & Referral in Settlement Services. The aim of this session is to better understand current practices and challenges with how settlement agencies are providing I&R, and consider the options ahead to ensure the best possible services for newcomers. It is an opportunity to connect with practitioners in the settlement sector (settlement workers, researchers/academics) with an interest in I&R as well as link with other I&R practitioners and experts to collaborate on common challenges.
This is #CdnImm Event #7: Information & Referral in Settlement
September 11, 2012 | 1-5 pm | North York Central Library Auditorium
Faed Henry is a Certified Information & Referral Specialist (CIRS) who is Manager of Training and Outreach with Findhelp Information Services in Toronto. He has worked in various capacities at Findhelp since 1989. Faed regularly conducts training and credentialing programs related to information, assessment and referral throughout Ontario and North America.
Faed has served as the Chairperson of the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) Standards Committee which developed the most recent edition of the Professional Standards for Information & Referral and Quality Indicators. AIRS is a professional membership association with over 1,000 organizations. Faed is currently President of AIRS and conducts regular accreditation site visits to Community Information Centres and 211 agencies throughout North America.
Faed conducts regular workshops on Information, Referral and Communication Skills as well as Understanding the Human Services System. He has provided hundreds of customized training workshops with consistently strong evaluations and positive feedback including sessions for the following organizations:
Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities – Employment Ontario
Community Care Access Centres
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Global Experience Ontario
Centre for Community Learning & Development
In his spare time, he volunteers as a youth soccer coach with the East York Soccer Club.
Andrew Chung, Skills For Change
Andrew Chung – Lead, Innovation Projects, Skills for Change
Having been with Skills for Change for about 4 years, Andrew is focusing his energies on impacting social change through innovation and collaboration. Some of the projects currently in incubation under his leadership are the gender-based analysis and the Ideation Uncommittee.
Andrew graduated from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration, and minored in Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Management. He's worked in the non-profit sector for over 7 years with some fantastic organizations and in between dabbled in his own consultancy as a strategic planning facilitator, as a law student at the University of Ottawa, and in grassroots campaign management.
In 2003, Andrew received the Lincoln M. Alexander Award for his work towards the elimination of racial discrimination in Ontario and in 2006, received the BMO Financial Group Diversity Award for his leadership in diversity and inclusion activities.
In 2009, Andrew continued his volunteer efforts with the Asian Community AIDS Services, an organization that provides HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness, queer youth programming and services, and support to people living with HIV/AIDS. In 2010, he was elected as Vice-Chair of the board of the Asian Community AIDS Services and served as Co-Chair of the Strategic Planning and Fundraising sub-committees.
Karine Shynkarenko – Team Leader, Newcomer Information Centre, YMCA of Greater Toronto
Karine is currently working at the YMCA Newcomer Information Centre. She holds a Degree in Economics and Diploma in Community Development from George Brown College. Her former experience includes working with youth and the Red Cross, and participating in conferences and working groups of the United Nations and UNESCO.
At the YMCA, Karine has held a variety of positions from front-line worker to Information & Referral Specialist, to her current position as a team leader of the Newcomer Information Centre. The centre provides a variety of services including up-to-date information and referrals and information sessions for new immigrants, to support newcomers in their integration into Canadian society.
Think about what can be eliminated from the list by doing your work differently
Q&A - Panel Discussion
Doug - commented on value of breadth of the three presentations
Faed: how organizations provide I&R is very different; thinks I&R is undervalued (maybe not specific part of training but rather an assumption)
Andrew: looking at clients as whole people, not just as “person who needs housing”, etc.; SFC staff have I&R training (should have everyone across agency at 100%, i.e. able to answer client’s question, regardless of who answers)
Karine: YMCA is only I&R (different from settlement workers - refer to settlement workers); constantly updating fact sheets, having workshops in different languages
Andrew: SFC benefits from FindHelp information resources (before: binder of resources that constantly out of date)
Faed: gaps in information - should be aware of our limitations, gaps in knowledge; things change very quickly, never-ending task
Doug: Does I&R mean different things to different people?
Karine: important to understand what different agencies are doing
Faed: value of I&R standards; I&R different from assessment and referral; important to have some common understanding, e.g. “putting people and services together”
Doug - varying (quality of) I&R...
Karine: contact person if you realize you’ve made a mistake
Andrew: SFC tracks demographic information to try to deepen knowledge (properly identify true needs of community serving)
Karine: reputation precedes an agency, clients speak to others, e.g. language schools, colleges (in a way, this replaces, is more accurate than evaluation forms)
Doug: duplication of services (how to choose which one to refer client to)
Karine: look at client’s specific needs, agency location, hours, etc.; give several options
Faed: workers are not consumers of services they are referring to; not endorsing agencies; be careful not to get stuck in a rut (i.e. jump to answer, e.g. WES, before asking enough questions - e.g. For what purpose do you need credentials assessed?)
Andrew: sometimes it’s not really a question of duplication (e.g. LINC classes at certain level, time of day, childminding); find best option for client
Karine: remember specific client needs
Doug: What would you change if you could in the settlement sector?
Andrew: remove certain rules, e.g. don’t prioritize convention refugees over claimants (forget about stats); don’t assume a citizen here for 10 years is totally settled
Karine: have quarterly training for settlement workers about Canadian social policy
Faed: more PD, support for settlement workers (often the first thing cut when budgets are reduced); people often fall into the job; important to support them
Questions from the Floor
How to avoid people being asked the same questions at different agencies
Another audience member mentioned a swipe card
Faed highlighted OTIS (Online Tracking and Information System); noted barrier to clients using services when they have to repeatedly answer the same questions
Jackie (Library Settlement Program): questions people ask are very different depending on neighbourhood, location (How could this be captured in a database like OTIS?)
How often does 211 update database?
At least once a year; member agencies also welcome to update information themselves
In light of immigration changes (more people with higher language skills will start arriving), how will agencies adapt?
Thanks/Closing Remarks - Doug
Pictures from #CdnImm event #7: Settlement Sector Information & Referral