Ready for School Connects (RfSC)
Ready for School Connects (RfSC) is a school readiness program for newcomer families in downtown Toronto. The program supports pre-school children and their parents in the context of their families and community to build skills that ease the transition to the Canadian school system. In partnership with several community organizations, the program identifies immediate settlement issues that affect participants, such as acculturation, language, employment, housing, isolation, and knowledge of and access to resources. The ultimate goal is to prepare the children and their parents for the Canadian school system, starting with kindergarten.
“We will have things in common in the near future (September) when we meet again. Feel good to know others in the school yard have a real sense of community now.” Secord School parent (2010)”
As a program delivered free of charge to its participants, RfSC strives for maximum accessibility for its locally defined target population. It provides interpretation and child care supports, transit tickets, and healthy snacks. The design of the program ensures that it meets the needs of newcomer families.
Parents are involved in the program in many ways, as participants, by providing feedback for evaluation, and as Advisory Committee members, to name a few.
The program is based on key partnerships with community agencies, schools, and community health centres. The model of working with newcomer families in partnership with other stakeholders has many advantages. For example, working with community partners has enabled the service provider to identify new sources of funding to continue the program after the training year is complete. The model is also a catalyst for new community-based partnerships across Toronto.
There is an annual evaluation mechanism in place for RfSC. This is to make sure that the program is achieving its targets and that clients, staff, and partners are satisfied with the program. Improvements are made to the program based on client feedback and program evaluation.
RfSC is offered at various schools across the city of Toronto. Due to its popularity, participating schools have identified that many more families would benefit from the program than they are currently able to accommodate.
“Now my child feels big enough to go to school. He keeps saying my school this and my school that.” Carleton Village parent (2010)
The program has captured its lessons learned and effective practices in a recently updated Staff Training Toolkit, which is available online and free of charge. The toolkit can be used by other communities which are interested in offering the RfSC model to the newcomer families they serve. RfSC staff offer training to other community-based organizations interested in the model. For example, East York East Toronto Family Resources has adopted the RfSC model into its regular roster of programs.
- Service Providers
- Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Centre
- United Way Toronto and Toronto Community Foundation
- Toronto, ON
- Year of Launch
- Languages of Delivery
- English with interpretation as needed (Bengali, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, and Vietnamese are the most common languages)
- Newcomer Groups Served
- Newcomer families with pre-school children
- 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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