Misconceptions and Misunderstandings

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Misconceptions and Misunderstandings

Preliminary consultations held by OCASI with service providers and refugee sponsors revealed some misconceptions and misunderstandings that exist when working together. Many of the challenges highlighted had to do with the perceived demands and expectations of sponsors and service providers. Early communication between refugee sponsors and service providers can help ensure that everyone is on the same page, ie. working toward the same goal. Many times, sponsors and service providers support newcomers towards different goals on the basis of different needs assessments. This can be the cause of misunderstandings between the two groups and a cause of confusion for the newcomer(s).

Despite the spike in arrival of privately sponsored refugees in Ontario, public funding for language classes and other programs have remained the same. What this ends up meaning is that many newcomers are not able to access limited resources. Service providers often have to bear the brunt of frustrations from clients and/or sponsors for circumstances that are beyond their control. There is a need for managing expectations of what the settlement sector can provide and the timelines within which services can be provided. Sponsors often will contact multiple agencies to increase the chances of receiving a service. The problem with this approach however, is that we may be wasting already limited resources.

According to some service providers, a large number of refugee sponsorship groups do not have a good understanding of what settlement services are, the role of a settlement agency, and the limited capacity of a settlement provider.

Many sponsors expect to be able to sit in on the settlement worker's appointment with the client or to be given access to the information that a client has disclosed to the settlement worker. Service providers however are not permitted to do this. Also, settlement workers emphasized the importance of supporting autonomy and self-sufficiency, and that there is a difference between empowerment and "helping"

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