Immigrants to get more help in schools

Surrey hires 11 outreach workers for new Canadian families

Local refugee and immigrant students and their families trying to make their way in a new country will now have more support to do so.

The Surrey School District has been able to hire 11 full-time settlement workers thanks to a provincial government partnership and funding from Citizen and Immigration Canada that was formally announced Wednesday.

Ten school districts, including Surrey, are participating in the SWIS (Settlement Workers in Schools) program, wherein districts were offered between $150,000 and $2 million per year based on their number of English-as-a-Second-Language students.

For the current school year, Surrey has been granted $1.8 million, while Delta received $187,000.

Surrey’s new settlement workers are scheduled to visit schools by month’s end to contact new immigrant kids and teens and their families to assist with their integration into the community.

Their primary role is to support families within their first year in Canada, helping them with basic needs such as finding parents a job or a home, as well as helping them understand the importance of schooling.

Surrey already has 15 full-time multicultural workers, who have been providing a broad array of services to new residents, including settlement help.

Now, it’s hoped they can be more school-focused, helping communicate with and guide parents in their own language or promoting a better understanding of particular cultures within schools.

According to the Immigrant Services Society of B.C., 645 government-assisted refugees settled in Surrey between 2003 and 2006. A provincial review of the school district late last month indicated while ESL programs needed some improvement, existing multicultural workers were working well and those programs needed to be expanded.

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