New settlement assessment aims to connect more newcomers to services
The initiative hopes to serve 1,000 people by March 2021
The WE Value Partnership launched a newcomer assessment settlement program on Thursday that aims to connect newcomers to programs and support services available in Windsor-Essex that are suitable to them based on their specific needs and talents.
With the help of assessors at the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario's Windsor Learning Centre, newcomer clients complete an assessment questionnaire using a newly developed client management system which generates referrals tailored to them.
Hugo Vega, the Regional Manager of Settlement and Integration Services at YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, says newcomers face many barriers, including learning a new language, which makes it especially difficult for them to navigate systems and access appropriate services, adding that this program will help with that.
"We are looking to capture skills, assets, and aptitudes but we're also assessing for their regular settlement needs and in a more standardized way," he said, adding that individual needs can vary from healthcare to education to employment and finances.
Kelsey Santarossa, the community engagement coordinator for the WE Value Partnership, says they're trying to broaden the scope of who they're serving.
"I think the biggest question they may have is 'where do I go next?'" she said. "Being a newcomer means you're building your life from ... nothing ... so, it's just about making sure that newcomers know [what's] there and we're there to support them."
The WE Value Partnership received about $2 million from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada to fund the pilot project, which took 15 months to develop.
It hopes to serve 1,000 newscomers by March 2021.
Led by YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, the initiative is in partnership with Workforce WindsorEssex, the University of Windsor and TechShare.
The assessment will be available in 20 languages, including Arabic, Mandarin, Somali and Urdu.
Better for the community
"We are doing this so that Windsor-Essex has the best possible start, has engaged citizens and we can tackle this as a community," said Santarossa.
Vega echoes the sentiment.
'This is a service and a program focused on bettering the outcomes of newcomers, the benefit is not just to them. I really believe ... that when a newcomer succeeds, when every individual in a community reaches their full potential, the whole community is better for it."