Evaluation of the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP)

1. Introduction

1.1. Background

Originally intended to assist families of Canadian soldiers and war refugees adjust to life in Canada, the Government of Canada established settlement services in 1948. CIC first introduced the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP) in 1974. ISAP provided services to facilitate the adaptation, settlement and integration of newcomers to Canada so that they could participate to the best of their ability in the Canadian economy and society as quickly as possible. A detailed description of ISAP is provided in Section 2. In 2008, CIC’s modernized Settlement Program replaced ISAP as well as the other settlement and language training programs. Although ISAP no longer exists, many of the activities formerly funded under the Program remain eligible under the modernized Settlement Program funding.

1.2. Purpose of the evaluation

The objective of this evaluation is to provide an evidence-based assessment of the relevance, design and delivery, and performance of ISAP. The evaluation examines delivery of the Program in all provinces and territories for which the federal government (CIC) has the sole or joint responsibility for the management of settlement programsFootnote 1. The evaluation covers five years (from April 2004 to March 2009). The period extends before and during implementation of the modernized approach. Notwithstanding the merging of the programs, this evaluation focuses on the traditional ISAP Program as per requirements outlined in the original funding arrangementFootnote 2. The following table presents the evaluation issues and questions related to the ISAP Program.

Table 1–1: ISAP Evaluation questions

Relevance
  • Is there a continuing need for this type of settlement program?
  • Was ISAP consistent with Government of Canada and CIC priorities?
  • Was the development and funding of ISAP an appropriate role for the Government of Canada?
Performance
  • Were ISAP services meeting the immediate settlement needs of clients? (e.g., banking/finances, shopping, utilities, referrals to resources)
  • Does para-counselling and referrals to specialized services assist clients in dealing with immediate crises and issues?
  • Do clients who receive employment-related services gain the skills to look for employment?
  • Do Service Bridging initiatives contribute to businesses and community organizations, other than SPOs, being more accessible and welcoming to newcomers?
  • Did ISAP contribute to the adaptation and integration of clients?
Design and delivery
  • Were there any barriers for potential ISAP clients (e.g., waiting lists, transportation, child-minding)?
  • Was the design and implementation of ISAP activities based on sound evidence?
  • Did program stakeholders have a clear understanding of ISAP services and objectives?
  • Were there useful tools and information that support and improve service delivery?
  • Did service providers have the resources (including community resources for referrals) and infrastructure necessary to facilitate service delivery?
  • Was ISAP an effective means to meet the immediate settlement needs of newcomers?
  • What was ISAP’s interaction with other settlement programs in achieving its outcomes?

1.3. Structure of the report

The report is organized into five main sections. Following the introduction, Section 2 describes the ISAP Program in terms of its history, objectives, delivery, clients, services and budget. Section 3 describes the evaluation methodology. Section 4 provides the evaluation findings. Section 5 presents the overall conclusions.

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