What is the Settlement Support Connection project?
As new permanent residents, Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) or Blended Visa-Office Referred refugees (BVORs) are eligible for government-funded services for newcomers known as "settlement services".
Sponsoring groups are required to provide settlement support to the newcomers they have sponsored. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) requires sponsoring groups to inform newcomers of their right to access settlement services, which are free of charge, and to help them access these services.
The Allies for Refugee Integration (ARI) project found that sponsored newcomers are more likely to integrate into their new community when their sponsoring group works with a settlement service provider.
Sponsor-settlement worker collaboration
The collaboration with settlement agencies is so important that sponsors are asked to begin to prepare for it at the application stage. The Settlement Plan, one of the most important parts of the sponsorship application, asks sponsors the following question: "Which immigrant settlement assistance agencies will the refugees likely access and for which services?".
The services provided by settlement agencies include the following:
- Language training,
- Referral to employment services and specialized services,
- Newcomer youth services,
- Settlement support groups
The Settlement Support Connection project
Sponsoring groups must identify the settlement services available in their area at the time of the sponsorship application. However, they may need help accessing these services when the sponsored refugees arrive, as several years may have passed since the application was submitted.
To address this, the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) has launched the Settlement Support Connection (SSC) project to help sponsoring groups (and the newcomers they have sponsored) connect with settlement workers in their area.
The settlement workers participating in this project have received specialized professional training from RSTP to equip them to work with sponsoring groups.
This training covers the following topics:
- Key elements of the PSR and BVOR programs,
- PSRs' and BVORs' eligibility for government-funded settlement services,
- Role of the sponsors in providing settlement support,
- The unique relationship between sponsors and newcomers,
- Best practices for collaboration with sponsors,
- Settlement workers' role as supportive and complementary to the sponsors'.
The Settlement Support Connection project is national. In Ontario, the project has trained many settlement workers in the GTA (including Mississauga, Brampton, Halton, Milton, and Ajax/Pickering), and a smaller number in Windsor, Guelph, Kitchener, and Ottawa. The project is currently expanding its network to include more settlement workers in London, Hamilton-Niagara, and Northern areas.
How does the Settlement Support Connection project connect sponsors, sponsored newcomers, and settlement workers?
When the sponsoring groups receive a Notice of Arrival Transmission (NAT) informing them of the upcoming arrival of the sponsored refugees, they are invited to contact the Settlement Support Connection (SSC) team.
The SSC team will identify a suitable settlement worker from its list of those who have received professional development training from RSTP. It will consider the community of settlement and, if possible, the newcomer's language.
Once the settlement worker confirms their availability, the SSC team will introduce the sponsoring group and the settlement worker by email. The sponsoring group can then make an appointment for the newcomer with the settlement worker. In some communities, settlement services may be provided virtually.
This service is offered to all types of sponsoring groups, including Sponsorship Agreement Holders and their Constituent Groups or Cosponsors, Groups of Five, or Community Sponsors.
Want to get connected? Here's how:
If you are a sponsor, please fill out the following request form.
If you are a newcomer who arrived in Canada as a sponsored refugee less than a year ago, please complete the following request. form.
If you are a settlement worker who would like to receive professional development training to participate in this project, please fill out the following request form.
Any questions? Contact RSTP's Settlement Support Connection team at email@example.com
Presented by: Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP)
For more information
- What are settlement services?, an article from Settlement.Org that describes what settlement services are and who is eligible.
- Services near me will help you find settlement or other community services throughout Ontario.
- Who can be a private sponsor?, an article from WelcomeOntario.
- RSTP also offers monthly webinars to support and train private sponsors.