Early Years Refugee Project
The Early Years Refugee Project (EYRP) is a culturally competent early-learning centre tailored to meet the settlement and early childhood developmental needs of refugee children and their families. Its goal is to minimize the impact of the trauma experience that most refugee families experience and to support their children’s development in the Canadian context; facilitating access to resources in the community and helping them feel more welcomed and connected. The overall goal is to help transition this population into mainstream services and resources.
The project is located in close geographical proximity to where the majority of the refugee families reside. Outreach hours are available five days a week, with some evening and weekend assistance as well. Program time includes both morning and afternoon. There is some evening programming as well. In the Lower Mainland, there are several sites that serve refugee families from 56 different source countries with 52 different first language groups.
EYRP focuses on responsive programming. Parents are asked for interest level on a variety of topics like nutrition and life-skills classes. Families contribute to what types of celebrations the project holds (e.g., Karen New Year), and songs and stories that are told. There is an assessment that families can go through with a case worker to determine what areas they would like to find more information on or that the project can give more support in.
The project holds focus groups in the community, inviting a variety of stakeholders, including community grassroots initiative, school districts, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Fraser Health, City and Township Culture and Recreation, as well as the City and Township representatives for Fraser Valley Regional Library. The focus groups determine the target areas for risks and provide input for the development of the proposal. As members of the project Steering Committee, Early Childhood Public Partners each contribute in-kind services from space to staff hours in support of the work that is being done. The Steering Committee meets regularly with the Program Manager as the project rolls out and gets implemented.
A quarterly report is submitted to the British Columbia Ministry of Regional Economic and Skills Development and the United Way of the Lower Mainland. The project team also holds bi-monthly meetings with the Steering Committee made up of Early Childhood Public Partners, who agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. An evaluation process has been undertaken by the provincial Ministry and has been used to give feedback to pilot sites.
The evaluation indicated very clearly that there are positive and demonstrated improvements in outcomes for families relative to “dosage”: the more exposure a family has to the program, the better the outcome for the family. The positive outcomes are that families have become increasingly comfortable in their new communities and that they have an increased ability to support their children's development in the Canadian context. As well, the project’s staff has grown in its understanding and support of refugee families.
Not many of the families have moved out of the Langley community. However, if they do move out, every effort is made to link them with resources (settlement and health) within their new community. The project makes sure that supports are in place within the provincial boundaries. The project can be used as a model for communities receiving refugee families in groups from the same ethno-cultural background.
- Service Providers
- Langley Community Services Society (LCSS) as well as DIVERSEcity, Immigrant Services Society of BC, MOSAIC, Richmond Family Place, Mount Pleasant Family Centre, Options Community Services, S.U.C.C.E.S.S., SHARE Family and Community Services, Umoja Operation Compassion Society of British Columbia
- British Columbia Ministry of Regional Economic and Skills Development and United Way of the Lower Mainland.
- Langley, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, Vancouver
- Year of Launch
- Languages of Delivery
- English, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Dari, Farsi, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Nepali, Pashto, Persian, S’gaw Karen, Spanish, Somali, Swahili, Spanish, Tigrinya, Yoruba.
- Newcomer Groups Served
- Refugee families with children aged 0 to 6 years.
- Expected Results
Information and Orientation (Newcomers make informed decisions about their settlement and understand life in Canada).
Welcoming Communities (Newcomers receive help to establish social and professional networks so they are engaged and feel welcomed in their communities).
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