November 7, 2016 | Author: Lester Sanders | Category: N/A
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Prepared for Success by 6 Peel By Donna Joyette Joyette Consulting Services


TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary………………………………………………………….




Searching for Reasons Why…………………………………………….......


Who We Heard From………………………………………………….


What We Found………………………………………………………..


Recommendations For Moving Forward…………………………………


Appendices Appendix A. Success by 6 Peel Membership…………………………


Appendix B. Newcomer Early Child Development Steering Committee…………………………………………………………………..


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Executive Summary This report summarizes the findings and recommendations resulting from a consultation process conducted in the Region of Peel. Our goal was to to investigate factors contributing to the reduction in use of early child development (ECD) services by newcomer parents of children 0 – 6 years old, the longer they have been in Canada. In 2012, the Peel Children and Youth Initiative (PCYI) released the Building Healthy Child Development: The Experiences of Parents in Peel report1. The report’s findings showed that, in general, newcomer parents in the region of Peel tend to have their highest levels of program and service usage within their first year in Canada; and, their usage level drops gradually as they are in Canada for an extended period of time. The research compared parents with similar socio-demographic characteristics; therefore, drops in usage could not be attributed to the aging of the children. With a mission to support parents and caregivers in helping children reach their fullest potential from birth to age six, Success by 6 Peel (SB6), a pillar of PCYI, received an Innovation Grant from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to explore further the factors contributing to this trend and understand and address the specific challenges and barriers newcomer families in Peel experience in accessing and/or seeking out ECD services. Between October 2013 and February 2014, a total of 223 newcomer parents, service providers, and cultural and faith leaders participated in focus groups, surveys and a large community consultation. Although some issues that were reported during the consultations do not specifically address the decline in ECD service use the longer the parent has lived in Canada, when considered collectively, they may offer better insight into factors influencing level of parent engagement at different stages of settlement.


The full report can be found at

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL Four broad themes emerged from the consultation: 1. Reality of life in Canada 

Newcomers are highly motivated during their first six months after arrival in Canada. This enthusiasm wanes and they become disillusioned when confronted by the demands and stresses of life.

2. Access & Availability of Services 

Program locations requiring travel by public transit, especially during winter months, can be expensive, exhausting and perilous. Parents (especially moms) are not comfortable driving on winter roads and often weight the benefits of engagement in programs and services against the expense and effort required to get there.

Certain cultural practices may inhibit access and participation. i.e. where it is customary for women to be accompanied in public by a male relative. Once dad secures employment, mom is no longer able to attend programs.

Cost of recreation, pre-school programs or childcare, is prohibitive especially for families with more than one child.

Parents/grandparents feel inadequate because of limited English. Even those with a fair degree of proficiency in English take time to get use to Canadian English and the Canadian accent.

Co-location of services for multiple age groups and generations would reduce the difficulty involved in taking children of different ages to programs in various locations, while also offering something for parents and grandparents.

Limited space, long waiting lists and being turned away deter from sustained participation.

Ineligibility for settlement services may lead to an assumption of ineligibility for publically funded ECD programs.

3. Relevance & Quality of Services and Supports 

Newcomer mothers feel isolated, overwhelmed and lack traditional family supports. Programs that require parent involvement do not address their need for respite.

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Transnational families2 present unique issues and needs and are more apt to create their own informal support systems that resemble traditional practices and address their particular circumstances.

Parents derive great benefit from spending time with their children in their home or with close friends who share a similar background and values.

Concerns over children losing culture, language and values cause newcomers to retreat to their cultural and religious communities.

Many newcomer parents are accustomed to more corrective approaches to child-rearing and may feel judged and pressured to conform to Canadian norms and values.

Newcomers may attach stigma to publically funded or low cost programs. Facilities that are inadequate or poorly maintained contribute to such perceptions.

Parents are concerned about the hygiene of materials used in programs and the potential for children’s exposure to germs and diseases.

Expectations of program benefits and impact are high among some newcomer parents. Parents aired concerns about the limited time (half-hour – 1 hour) and schedule (once per week), allotted for many recreational programs and programs for children with special needs. Parents felt that these restrictions do not allow for acquisition of skill or improvements in development.

The design and expectations of ECD programs are unfamiliar. Without intentional efforts by staff to welcome and orient newcomers, they find themselves in strange territory and may choose not to continue.

The benefits of “play” have not been effectively communicated to newcomer parents. Many view ECD programs as being too focused on creative and social development and less attentive to academic development.

Understanding of current ECD approaches and the benefits of such, for example “play-based,” gets lost in translation from English to other languages.

Establishment of friendships and connections with cultural, and faith based supports increase with tenure in Canada. These informal supports offer more familiar and attractive options.

Families where one parent or in some cases both parents, live and work in another country while one parent and/or the children live in Canada. In this report it generally refers to situations where the mother lives In Canada with the children while the father works abroad. 2

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Newcomers are unaware of ECD programs and supports, and appear to rely on word of mouth for much of their information.

Opportunities (i.e. pre-natal classes, hospital stay during labour and delivery) for connecting parents to ECD services are missed.

Families that are more settled are less likely to remain connected to settlement and other supports. This limits chances of being referred to ECD services after their first year of settlement.

Summary of Recommendations 

Advocate for public transit subsidies for families and children registered in city programs.

Investigate and secure resources to support the development of multi-service centres and mobile services.

Establish partnerships to design and implement public education campaigns to highlight the benefits of “Play”-based approaches.

Leverage opportunities for sharing tools, resources, knowledge and skills that build capacity to create welcoming, relevant and inclusive ECD services and supports.

Establish a network of champions representing ECD, faith and ethnic groups, settlement and local government, and explore possibilities for the consolidation of efforts emanating from similar research and reports.

Develop a strategy to encourage political attention and action on the needs and issues experienced by newcomer parents of children 0 - 6. The strategy should be focused in its message(s) and requested actions.

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Introduction In 2012, the Peel Children and Youth Initiative (PCYI) released the Building Healthy Child Development: The Experiences of Parents in Peel report3. The report reflected the interests and experiences of a randomized sample of 1,543 parents with children ages 0-12 from across the Region of Peel. It assessed parents’ experiences of informal and formal supports while controlling for some of their key sociodemographic characteristics i.e. gender,

Social support is really important to parents. In fact, those who have a significant amount of informal support are 73% more likely to use developmental programs and services. Parenting and pre-natal classes are among the services that more isolated parents are least likely to use. Building Healthy Child Development, pg 20

marital status, ethnic background, length of time in Canada etc.4

21% of parents with younger children (0-6) and 24% of parents with older children (7-12) say that transportation is a barrier to their participation in programs and services. While many overcome the problem, about 10% of all parents do not go as a result. Building Healthy Child Development, pg 70

The report uncovered valuable findings about which developmental services and programs are actually being used by parents with children 0 – 12 years old. Given the region’s rich diversity, Success by 6 Peel (SB6), a pillar of PCYI, was interested in exploring further the trends linked to newcomer parents and their children 0 – 6. While the report corroborated the experience of those working with newcomer families with young children, it also revealed interesting trends in how newcomer parents of young children connect to Early Child Development (ECD) services.

3 4

The full report can be found at Note: Sample did not include parents who had limited or no proficiency in English.

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL The findings showed that the level of usage of common early childhood supports and programs for parents in Peel varies by the ethnicity of the parents as well as by the number of years that newcomer parents have been in Canada. In general, newcomer parents in Peel tend to have their highest levels of program and service usage within their first year in Canada; and, their usage level drops gradually as they are in Canada for an extended period of time.

The simple concept is really about using places that are already popular with parents and other caregivers – like libraries and community centres – to help families access developmental programs and opportunities for them and their children. Building Healthy Child Development, pg 80-81

16% of all parents said they “did not share the same values as those who attend activities and programs for children and 17% said they actually “get nervous when people they don’t know are friendly with them or their children.

Since the parent research results compared

Building Healthy Child Development

with a family with a six-month old who lives in

parents with similar socio-demographic characteristics, these drops in usage could not be attributed to the aging of the children. For instance, the research results compares a family with a six month old who lives in Peel and moved to Canada from China last year, Peel and moved to Canada from China four years ago. All variables are constant except for their tenure in Canada.

Searching for Reasons Why An Innovation Grant, received from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, allowed SB6 to begin further exploration of: “Why parents of young children who live in Peel and have lived in Canada for 4-5 years are less likely to use Early Child Development services and supports than parents of young children who live in Peel and have lived in Canada for 1 year or less?” The investigation focuses solely on the experiences of newcomer parents residing in the Region of Peel.

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL In the fall of 2013 SB6 established the Newcomer Early Child Development (ECD) Steering Committee5. This Committee engaged representatives from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, community organizations, settlement sector services, and ECD services, to provide additional input and assist in guiding the exploration of factors influencing newcomer parents’ decrease in connection and participation in ECD services. The project’s main goal was to consult with newcomer parents, service providers, and informal supports such as cultural and faith-based groups to gain better insight into: 

What factors are influencing decreased participation the longer parents live in Canada;

Ways and means of connecting parents to ECD services and supports and maintaining engagement.

Who We Heard From A total of 223 parents, faith and cultural leaders and service providers participated in the consultations. Newcomer Parents - With the assistance of Peel Multicultural Council, three language specific focus groups with newcomer parents of young children were conducted during the first week of February 2014. Language specific flyers were distributed throughout the neighbourhood as well as to parents attending Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classes run by the organization. Groups were conducted in Arabic, Mandarin and Urdu. A total of 22 parents attended the focus groups. Child Development Resource Connection Peel (CDRCP) facilitated the distribution of surveys to parents in Peel who, with their young children, attended Ontario Early Years, LION (Learning In Our Neighbourhood) and Peel Family Literacy Centre (PFLC) sites. Eighty-four surveys were completed and returned. The survey was distributed from December 2013 – February 2014. ECD staff of Settlement Services – Twenty-eight ECD staff participated in focus groups at two separate settlement agencies; Newcomer Centre of Peel in Mississauga (23), and India Rainbow Community Services LINC Brampton site (5). 5

See Appendix B

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Community Consultation – On February 11, 2014, SB6 hosted a Community Consultation. Eighty-nine participants, representing approximately 60 settlement, ECD, and other children’s services and supports, as well as faith and cultural leaders, attended the event. In addition to providing input based on their experience with newcomer families, SB6 and the Newcomer ECD Steering Committee were also tasked with assisting in the design of the consultation activities and materials, and developing recommendations to respond to the many issues and challenges that arose from the consultations. Limitations One of the greatest challenges, and one that will be ongoing, is to connect with unconnected parents, i.e. those who are not associated with the formal system of services. Although it is recognized that many of these parents may have strong informal systems of support sufficient to meet their needs, there is a concern for those who may be isolated and, for one reason or another, unable or reluctant to reach out. For this reason, the project attempted to outreach to faith and cultural groups to assist in reaching deeper into communities. Unfortunately there was limited success due to the contracted time allotted for the completion of the project. Invitations to the Community Consultation were sent to members who had e-mail address of the Interfaith Council of Peel. Efforts made to connect with the Peel District School Board’s Interfaith Advisory Committee were unsuccessful as we were advised that membership information could not be shared. Due to limited time and resources, surveys distributed to newcomer parents were only available in English; therefore, respondents were required to have a fair proficiency in English. However, at some sites parents were assisted by other parents, staff or volunteers to complete the survey.

What We Found Newcomers arrive under various conditions and immigration categories. Studies have found that, “service needs and utilization of services vary according to such factors as ethno-racial group, period of immigration and immigration class”6. Although these issues 6

Reitz, J. (1995) A Review of the Literature on Aspects of Ethno-Racial Access, Utilization and Delivery of Social Services, Toronto.

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL are not specific to the question explored by this project, or to parents living in Peel, it is important to view parent participation in ECD services and supports within this greater context. Consultations with newcomer parents, service providers and faith and cultural leaders suggest a variety of factors influence newcomer parent engagement in ECD services and supports. Some of the issues that emerged as deterrents to engagement are general in nature (travel, cost of attending programs, waiting lists, and language barriers). While they are recognized as barriers to engagement in ECD services, they do not specifically address the decline in use over time. However, the consultation did unearth issues that shed considerable light on possible causes behind the trend. The findings do not make a distinction between these different issues or apply different weight to them. In understanding the complex experience of newcomer parents, it may be important to consider how the interplay between the many issues reported impact parent engagement at different stages of the settlement process. The following four key themes surfaced throughout the project’s consultative process. The themes were consistent across all stakeholder groups; however, parents who participated in the focus groups provided details that offered further insight into the challenges they face and approaches that have been ineffective.

1. Reality of Life In Canada Consultation participants reported a general decline in newcomer connection to service and supports over time. During the first six months after arrival to Canada, engagement of newcomers tends to be very high. There is an eagerness and thirst to be Canadian and blend in. Newcomers view participation in a variety of different programs and services as a way to learn about their new home and language, network and integrate. Over time, frustration, loss of confidence in Canadian systems, stresses of day to day survival, and mounting concerns about their children losing connection with their culture and language begins to chip away at the initial novelty, and enthusiasm begins to wane. It appears that as parents move further along in the settlement process, they are less likely or able to expend the funds and effort required to engage or continue participation in ECD programs. Reduced transit and program costs, for parents who qualify, would relieve some of the financial burden associated with attending programs.

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL Existing databases, such as Ontario Works, could be accessed to limit the need for families to go through an assessment process to prove need.

2. Accessibility & Availability of Services A significant factor hindering sustained participation in ECD programs was the lack of available and accessible services and supports in close proximity to neighbourhoods where newcomer families live. Travel to the program destination is a considerable impediment to participation, especially during

“When we first came everything was new and my daughter was little. I wanted to

inclement and colder weather.

meet other mothers so I went to the

Whether parents are using private or

Centre as much as I could. It took my

public transit, difficulties exist. In the

husband a long time to get a job. By the

case of public transit, the cost and

time I had the second baby my husband

effort involved in getting to the location of the program can be prohibitive. This

was working two jobs, trying to pay the

is especially true when transporting a

bills and save for us to move into a bigger

large family, or when attending

place. It was too much. Every week I

programs of short duration. Many

would say to myself, ok, I am going to go

newcomers are not used to Canada’s

to the Centre this week but when the

harsh winters and find travel during winter months perilous. Mothers, who

time came I would get tired just thinking

are usually the ones responsible for

about getting us all ready to take the

attending programs with children,

bus. I just never went back.” [Mom]

indicated that even when they have access to a car they are not confident driving on roads covered with ice or snow. The longer newcomer families are in Canada, the more likely it is that one parent, usually the father, will secure employment. Many ECD organizations and programs are available during business hours only, and this timing is not convenient for parents who work full-time. Fathers’ employment can also leave the rest of the family without ready transportation, and in some cultural groups without a male chaperone to accompany the family in public.

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL The cost of programs was also cited as a barrier. Parents specifically referred to the rising cost of recreational programs, quality childcare and pre-school programs. As many newcomer families struggle with limited household incomes and making difficult budgeting choices, participating in services for children does not rank high on the list of priorities, unless the program has an academic focus. Although barriers to participation associated with cost and location of programs persist whether newcomer families have lived in the region for one or five years, such barriers appear to have a detrimental effect on a parent’s motivation to participate in ECD programs the longer the parent has lived in Peel. Parents who are more settled are likely to have formed friendships and attachments to their faith and cultural communities. Some faith groups, such as mosques, temples and churches were reported to offer more reasonably priced programs, including daycare on the weekends, either during or outside of religious services. Some even run summer programming with prices geared to larger families who may be enrolling more than one child. Lower costs, coupled with the cultural/religious base of the programs, are strong incentives for choosing these options. Newcomer families find solace, comfort and reassurance within these communities where people and surroundings are familiar. These environments offer unique options and benefits that are unmatched in the formal service sector. One crucial avenue for connection to newcomer parents who are least connected to formal ECD services is through faith and cultural groups. Relationship building between informal and formal support systems take time and effort to nurture and grow, and cannot be pursued only at the moment when it suits the purpose of one group or the other. Language barriers impede active participation of parents and children with limited English. Even newcomers with a fair proficiency in English experience difficulties. Firstly, because they may still be getting used to the Canadian accent and “Canadian” English, or because the program instructor speaks English with an unfamiliar accent; and secondly, because many of the concepts and terms used in ECD programs are unfamiliar. Parents indicated that children also experience difficulties in this area and are

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL left with feelings of inadequacy at not being able to follow instructions or “catch on” because it takes them additional time to process information. Service providers must be sensitive to the needs and struggles of parents and young children whose first language is other than English. Proficiency or a good working knowledge of English do not guarantee that newcomer parents and their young children will feel at ease and able to participate readily in activities. Programs that have limited space or experience long waiting lists leave newcomer parents frustrated when they must wait to get into a program, may show up at a program and be told there is not space, or limitations are imposed as to the number of times that a family can attend a program over the course of a week or month.

“Even though we try to explain to new immigrants the difference between CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

Newcomers may also cease to participate in ECD programs if they believe they are no longer eligible for these programs after

funded programs and other services, they

they become Canadian Citizens,

believe that once they can’t come to

as is the case with some

LINC any longer then they can’t go to

settlement programs such as

other services either.” [Settlement worker]

Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC).

Accessing multiple locations for services for different aged children is cost prohibitive and burdensome. Service providers and parents alike expressed the need for facilities housing multiage, multigenerational programs so that parents could access services for children of different ages and stages in one place. Programs for parents and grandparents, who in some families play the role of caregivers, could also be offered at the same location. Co-located services or creation of mobile services that are more conveniently located would reduce the effort involved in attending programs. For example, creative use of existing spaces such as the “Super School” concept and the Best Start Child & Family Centres, could conceivably bring together social agencies, educational supports, settlement services, ECD programs, and other child and youth services under one roof.

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL Gathering and correlating current information could prove useful in determining the location of such multiservice centres and facilitate the identification of duplications and gaps in services. Useful information could include: location and service offerings of ECD, settlement and ethnospecific programs and supports, geographical distribution of newcomers and families with children 0-6 population, and facilities appropriate for hosting service hubs.

3. Relevance and Quality of Services and Supports An increasingly diverse region has challenged the service system in Peel to better understand and adapt programming to meet the needs and expectations of a rapidly changing demographic. The ECD sector is of course no exception. Balancing survival and quality time for family presents unique challenges for newcomers who

“With the three children I don’t even have time to take care of myself. Back

may suddenly find themselves

home I had my family and a nanny. I

without familial and other supports

can’t find a job, so I am in the house all

available to them in their country of

day. I don’t want to go to a program

origin. Mothers in particular shared

where I have to be with my kids.

how the loss of strong family supports had left them vulnerable

Sometimes I just need a break.” [Mom]

to feeling exhausted, depressed, disillusioned, overwhelmed and unable to cope. ECD programs that required parental participation did not offer these mothers the brief moments of respite they craved.

“After a while I found out that there are many women in my building whose husbands work overseas. We meet together every day in

A number of recent studies have found that many newcomers experience mental health issues.

someone’s apartment. The kids play together

Respite type programs

while we talk, and laugh and have coffee. It’s

could help parents to better

just like being back home with my sisters” [Mom]

manage their mental health as well as provide needed time to engage in activities

such as job search etc. This is especially true for mothers of transnational families, where

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL they are residing here in Canada with the children, while dad works in another country. Some of these mothers have created informal support groups that meet their unique needs Of particular note is that many parents indicated that spending time at home with their children was an important aspect of family life and a way of imparting knowledge, values, and building a strong and resilient family unit. They question the North American need to incessantly involve children in activities that are structured and outside of family or home settings. The longer newcomers are in Canada, the more concerned they become with maintaining their culture, language and values, the more apt they are to seek out services and supports for themselves and their children that are more culturally and faith appropriate, and compatible with their beliefs, norms and practices. Parents return to familiar ways of raising children and can perceive the involvement of outsiders as contrary to values and cultural norms, or intrusive. They want their children to have friends who are from a similar background and they themselves find comfort in socializing with these families. Once families become more established in Peel, sponsoring grandparents to assist with care of young children is the preferred option of many who are in a position to do so. Fundamental questions arose during the consultation that require further exploration and discussion. For example, do parents and children need to engage? Are issues being observed in newcomer children who enter school that engagement in ECD supports and services could mitigate? If not what is the benefit of engagement? Participants in the consultation identified several issues that may be influencing how parents perceive ECD programs. Newcomers who have attended programs and have had negative experiences (i.e. made to feel judged, or pressured to conform), may dissuade others from participating in programs. Newcomers may also attach a certain stigma to government-funded programs, and those that are free or take place in community facilities such as church basements, etc. Hygiene of toys and other materials, and the spread of colds and infections, was a fear also expressed by parents. Some programs were also described as repetitive. Parents

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL who attended a program with one child may feel capable of replicating what they learned at home and don’t see the need to exert the effort to attend the same program again. Staff to participant ratio also has an

“I would watch my son in the

impact on perceived quality of

swimming class. He didn’t

programming. Programs with high attendance left many newcomers sidelined with little or no attention being

understand what the teacher was saying most of the time. The class

paid to them. Participants felt

had many students and he would

unwelcomed and lost, and children

get one or two chances the whole

themselves did not wish to return.

session to try something and then

Parents may not see the benefit of participating in ECD services and supports

the class would be over. He started to say he didn’t want to go

either because the benefit has not been

anymore. I felt very bad for him, so

clearly communicated or because they

we just stopped.” [Dad]

have older children who developed well in the absence of such intervention.

“When I take my son to learn soccer it’s so he can become a

Although not a prevalent sentiment, there appears to be very high expectations when children take part in programming. Some

competitive soccer player not just

parents expect that ECD programs should

to learn how to kick the ball. I can

give children a competitive edge by

teach him that myself”. [Dad]

generating tangible skills, and find it difficult to appreciate the softer less tangible benefits of participation.

Despite this being an extreme example newcomers generally see Canadian approaches to working with children as somewhat permissive and not in line with their cultural practices and norms. The consultations highlighted misunderstandings that result from using the word “play” to describe ECD approaches, as in “play-based”. Both the interpretation and translation of the word play when placed in a cultural context can be

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL misleading and may trivialize this approach to early child development. This is a perfect example of how certain concepts simply get “lost in translation”. Concepts that may be very familiar to Canadian born parents and children may seem strange and foreign to newcomers. In such situations it is unlikely that newcomer parents and young children, especially those with limited English skills, experience any level of comfort. Communication about programs and benefits of ECD services and supports should be clearly articulated in language that resonates with parents. Concepts do not always translate well from one language to another especially when such concepts are culturally-based. In situations where children with unique needs require special ECD programs parents can be embarrassed, resistive and choose to withdraw from supports. In other

“My son has a disability. He only goes one time every week for one hour. I don’t think it’s enough. It’s a

cases, the limited duration and infrequency

waste of time. I don’t see a lot of

of such sessions (i.e. only once per week)

change. It would be better if he

was described as inadequate and

went more often I think. If I could

perceived to have little impact. Over time these experiences may have a

find another service I would even be willing to pay.” [Mom]

cumulative effect resulting in reduction or discontinuation of participation in ECD programs and supports.

4. Promotion & Engagement Lack of awareness of ECD programs and services, in conjunction with limited understanding of what is meant by early child development, affects participation. Upon arrival, newcomers who are connected to settlement services receive a lot of information and are encouraged by workers to participate in a variety of different activities. If information is not pertinent to their needs at the time, it is quickly forgotten. Once the connection with formal services is severed, newcomers rely on friends and family for their information.

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NEWCOMER ENGAGEMENT IN ECD SERVICES & SUPPORT IN THE REGION OF PEEL Word of mouth is still one of the most effective means of engaging newcomers in services and activities. A referral from a trusted friend or service provider is extremely successful in connecting people to supports. An interesting phenomenon occurred in all three parent focus groups: parents began sharing information with each other about Early Years Programs, what they offered, where they were located, and which ones provide language specific programs. They also shared information about recreational program subsidies and how to apply. Outreach strategies that utilize more direct and face-to-face methods in public spaces such as malls, grocery stores, housing complexes, libraries, community centres, and faith organizations should be explored. It is also important to continue to reach out and develop long lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with faith, advocacy and cultural groups in various communities. Use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and incentives to encourage parents already attending programs to invite new parents and support their ongoing participation were also viewed as ways of connecting to newcomer parents and encouraging sustained participation. Newcomer parents are not receiving information or referrals at critical times. For example, with only one exception, parents who attended focus groups and who had given birth to children in Peel did not recall being contacted by any service after being discharged from hospital. One parent in particular described how isolated and frightened she was as she had no relatives here and suspected that there was a problem with the baby.

“I was here alone with my husband. We had no family and we knew no one. I was so scared and not sure how to take care of the baby. I had a feeling something was wrong, but I didn’t know who to ask for help.” The pre and post-natal periods offer excellent opportunities to make critical linkages between newcomer parents and ECD services and supports. It would be useful to investigate where connection strategies may be breaking down and how to enhance this engagement opportunity.

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The need for stronger collaboration and connections between government, the ECD and settlement sectors, and newcomer parents is obvious. Each has unique perspectives, knowledge and resources that can be shared and harnessed in order to provide ECD services to newcomer families that are relevant to their needs and circumstances, and encourages and nurtures participation. Such collaborations will offer a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges to participation faced by newcomer families, and the possibility of more effective integration of parents’ values, norms and practices around child rearing into programming. For example, the First Steps – Early Childhood Development Settlement Program in British Columbia is collaboration between three partners, DIVERSEcity Community Resource Society (settlement agency), Options Community Services (family service agency) and Umoja African Services (ethnospecific agency). The program is geared to families of children aged 0 – 6 who are Government Assisted Refugees and provides support, information and counseling to parents.

Recommendations for Moving Forward The following recommendations are a reflection of the suggestions gleaned from consultations conducted during this project, and the thoughtful ideas of members of SB6 Peel and the Newcomer Early Child Development Steering Committee. Affordable Transportation 1. Request that the Poverty Round Table advocate with the Cities of Mississauga and Brampton to offer a transit pass/card similar to the Youth Freedom Pass for families and children registered in city programs Collocated Services & Supports 2. Build on the Super School and Best Start Child Family Centre Framework and investigate sources of funding to support the establishment of mobile and/or colocated services and programs for parents/grandparents, children and youth. 3. Support the enhancement of the mapping tool presently housed within the Peel Data Centre, to update and include information that would assist in more deeply understanding and addressing of the gaps and emerging needs relative to newcomer families with children 0-6 years old.

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Improving Awareness & Engagement 4. SB6 to develop a public education campaign that uses plain language and visuals to clearly communicate the benefits of “Play”-based approaches. 5. Develop partnerships between settlement and ECD agencies to promote ECD services in ethno-specific communities through initiatives and volunteer opportunities that utilize “word of mouth” strategies. 6. Build partnerships with media, both mainstream and ethno-specific, to highlight ECD themes and link to special occasions, e.g. Mother’s Day, cultural/faith occasions. Meeting the ECD Support and Service Needs of Newcomers 7. Develop tools and resources to assist ECD services and supports in assessing and increasing capacity to be welcoming, inclusive and relevant to newcomer parents and their young children. 8. Connect to established Neighbourhood Advisory Committees that will provide input to inform the design and planning of ECD services and supports. 9. Include ECD staff of settlement services in ECD service provider networks and professional development opportunities, and explore opportunities for training through existing resources and initiatives. Partnerships & Collaboration 10. Utilize champions from the SB6 Committee to share information and encourage partnerships and opportunities for networking, knowledge transfer and coordination of efforts with various partners in settlement and ECD service sectors, local government, and faith and cultural communities. 11. Identify faith/ethnic leaders who can champion introductions to faith-based institutions. 12. Support the development of partnerships and social purpose enterprise ventures as a means of building skills, offering opportunities to gain Canadian experience to newcomer parents of young children. Revenue can be utilized to support enhanced ECD programming. 13. Explore possible opportunities to consolidate efforts resulting from recommendations in this report and those emanating from the Nurturing the Next Generation Research.

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Working with Government 14. Develop a strategy to educate politicians and encourage actions that address the needs and issues experienced by newcomer parents of children 0 - 6. Such a strategy should be focused in its message and clear on requested actions. Success By 6 Peel will take a leadership role in exploring, prioritizing and vetting the below recommendations in relation to the planning table’s strategic priority setting process. Implementing recommendations will be a shared responsibility among SB6 members’ sectors and organizations, as well as the broader child-serving community in Peel. SB6 can act as a catalyst to initiate collaboration and break down recommendations into achievable steps. Ultimately, the success of the recommendations’ outcomes will depend on the community’s willingness to collaborate, innovate and work together.

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Appendix A Success By 6 Peel Members Dolores Cascone

Early Learning and Child Care Implementation Branch -Ministry of Education (Resource Member)

Teresa Colasanti

Caledon Parent Child Centre

Jeff deFreitas

Peel District School Board; Superintendent of Education - Early Years

Sandy Edmonds

PLASP Child Care Services

Valma Fairgrieve

City of Brampton, Recreation

Anne Fenwick

Peel Region Public Health; FASD

Chris Hartley

Erinoakkids Centre for Treatment and Development

Susan Hertz

Region of Peel, Public Health; CAC

Joan Kaczmarski

Region of Peel (Co-chair)

Jagdeep Kailey

Peel Multicultural Council

Isilda Kucherenko

Ministry of Education - Early Learning and Child Care Implementation Branch (Resource Member)

Karen Lipski

Ministry of Children and Youth Services Ministry of Community and Social Services; OEYC (Resource Member)

Vicky Lowrey

Peel Children’s Aid Society (Co-chair)

Marianne Mazzorato

Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board

Donna McIlroy

Peel Children’s Centre

Sonia Pace

Region of Peel

Nakiema Palmer

Region of Peel, Public Health

Lynn Petrushchak

Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood Centre, CIC Executive Directors Committee

Marie Pierre-Daoust

Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud

Daria Sharanewych

Library Systems (Caledon, Brampton, Mississauga)

Jane van Berkel

CDRCP; Home Providers, PCYPG

Lory Wolter

Mississauga Parent- Child Resource Centres; CAC

Kristina Zietsma

City of Mississauga

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Appendix B Newcomer Early Child Development Steering Committee

Aamna Ashraf

Peel Newcomer Strategy Group

Claudine Bennett

Region of Peel, Public Health Services, Family Health Division

Jay Federoff

Peel District School Board

Effat Ghassemi

Newcomer Centre of Peel

Noreen Hornsby

Child Development Resource Connections Peel

Jagdeep Kailey

Peel Multicultural Council

Valerie Kenny

Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Gurpreet Malhotra

India Rainbow Community Services

Donna McBride

Region of Peel. Human Services, Community Relations Peel Interfaith Council

Megan Richardson

Region of Peel, Human Services, Strategic Policy Planning & Partnership

Daria Sharanewych

Mississauga Public Library

Ailsa Stenners-Moroz

Caledon Parent Child Centre

Salima Tejani

Brampton Multicultural Council

Sarala Uttangi

Brampton Public Library

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