The Vancouver Board of Education’s Settlement Workers in School (SWIS) Program is a school-based settlement service that provides direct and immediate professional assistance to immigrant, refugee and eligible temporary resident students and their families after their arrival in Vancouver and registration in the public schools. Settlement workers facilitate the adjustment, adaptation, and integration of newcomer families during their initial years in Canada.
Established in September of 2007, the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) Program of the Vancouver School Board (VSB) has 18 settlement workers and 4 youth settlement workers placed in Vancouver’s 110 K-12 public schools where they serve all newcomers families in English. Besides, settlement workers have particular expertise in the culture and home language of immigrants who speak Arabic, Cantonese, Farsi, Filipino, Hindi, Korean, Kurdish, Mandarin, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Since its inception, the SWIS Program has annually served more than 3,500 students and their family members and delivered more than 300 informative workshops on a wide range of school– and settlement-related topics.
At the Board’s Newcomer Welcome Centre (NWC), settlement workers welcome and make the first contact with newcomer families. While new student registrants write the assessment test, parents attend an information session on the BC school system and SWIS services. Settlement workers also provide families additional information about school and community resources. They then may refer newcomer families to specific services in the community as well as school-based on the needs assessment and action planning conducted by settlement workers during the intake interview. Settlement workers do regular follow-up calls or meet with students and families to give them updates about settlement services, respond to new needs or simply maintain a professional connection with them. The SWIS team works collaboratively with school personnel (administrators, teachers, counsellors, Multicultural Liaison Workers (MCLW), youth and family workers, and other staff), and connects families to community and government service agencies that provide them with a supportive network of resources.
In 2010, the SWIS program expanded to include the Engaged Immigrant Youth Program (EIYP). With this added focus, the SWIS program, thereby allocating specific resources, expertise, and support to immigrant and refugee youth in secondary schools.
The SWIS logo focuses on animated energy and flow. It reflects the connection between three people who have joined hands in an upward direction. This is synonymous with the type of service the SWIS program offers. It guides and empowers newcomer families to eventually become self-sufficient. The three solid colours represent passion, growth, and loyalty. They also depict the unity of the SWIS Team in their continuing efforts to provide professional settlement services.
From an aerial perspective, the people have open arms, portraying the "welcoming" value of the SWIS Team who embraces diversity.