Child Intervention Research Forum – Cracker Barrel Presentation – Kirstin Blair

Strengthening the System of Services for Immigrant Children and Youth in Calgary Rationale: Immigrant children and youth are influenced by their experiences and the support they receive in their home, school, and community environments. It is important to consider each of these unique environments as well as their intersections and interactions in order to conceptualize the spectrum of supports required for the successful integration of immigrant children, youth, and their families. Initial literature review and collection of evidences from primary and secondary sources indicate that marginalization of immigrant children, youth, and families can occur in different environments and at different levels of existing support systems; at the levels of service delivery, coordination of services, funding and at the policy level. Focus: Calgary has a history of developing initiatives that aim to serve children and youth of immigrant families by offering a variety of programs in the fields of health, education, community engagement and other related services. At a system level, these initiatives have layers of programs and players contributing at multiple levels (individual, family, community, and city). They receive funds from multiple public and private streams operated through a variety of agencies serving immigrants directly or indirectly. Efforts to reduce systemic inefficiencies or exclusion will have to understand all of these levels and begin to explain how they interact. It requires a necessary emphasis on topics like; (a) learning, and review practices within key components of the system (b) need for fostering connections to leverage mutual strengths among system components and (c) capacitating policy and the regulatory environment which leads and directs service mechanisms and subsequent resources. Approach: The research will be a means for engagement and it will set in motion a process through which a broad spectrum of stakeholders identify starting points for action. This is another important aspect of the whole effort as success of this research and proposed strategic framework is in its ability to convene committed people to collaborate, improve and sustain their efforts for ethno-cultural children and youth. The ethno-cultural children and youth initiative at the Immigrant Sector Council of Calgary has a strong history of producing and presenting researches in the community of practice and at academic conferences. Most of this research work was to make a case for greater emphasis on cultural responsiveness in educational system and social support. As a result of these efforts, the program has received an Award of Excellence (Education category) from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation as well as an Honourable Mention Award from the International Centre for Service-Learning in Teacher Education.

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