Evaluation of the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP)
The major conclusions arising from evaluation of the ISAP are as follows:
1) ISAP was relevant as it sought to address a wide range of settlement and adaptation needs of newcomers. It was unique in terms of its availability and scope, and consistent with the purview of the federal government and CIC, however, there are diverse views on the appropriate federal and provincial roles in delivering settlement services
Immigrants face a variety of challenges that affect their ability to fully settle, adapt, and integrate within a new society. A major need for ISAP-type services was attributed to helping newcomers address their immediate needs (e.g., information and orientation, health, employment). These services are especially useful during the first few years after arrival in Canada. Although there were other programs which provided similar services, there were none which delivered the same breadth of services to newcomers and was as widely available.
The provision of ISAP services was consistent with Government of Canada and CIC priorities and was broadly viewed to be consistent with the roles and responsibilities of the federal government. The development and funding of ISAP was an appropriate role for the Government of Canada as the Federal Government is in a strong position to promote Canadian culture and values to ensure national standards for the delivery of the settlement services
The majority of stakeholders agreed that the development and funding of settlement programs is an appropriate role for the Government of Canada. Alternatively, some stakeholders maintained that greater involvement of provincial government in the design and management of settlement services could allow for more locally-tailored programming.
2) Overall, the implementation of ISAP was successful; however, there are a few areas in which services related to promotion and para-counselling can be enhanced.
The provision of all ISAP-type services has increased in the past five years, particularly in the areas of para-counselling and needs assessment. Overall, the implementation has been effective in providing services to newcomers, such as needs assessments, provision of information and orientation services, and the delivery of more specialized services. For instance, the range of services provided largely matched the needs expressed by newcomers, information services provide relevant information to participants, and employment services provide information and guidance pertinent to the Canadian labour market environment.
Despite the overall success of ISAP implementation, there are areas for improvement. Although SPOs have been engaging in more formal promotion of the program, the extent to which this information is received by newcomers is not clear. Word of mouth remains the most common way newcomers learn about the Program. In addition, many newcomers were not aware of ISAP services when they arrived and seriously needed such services.
Targeted marketing and promotion of ISAP-type services can not only inform newcomers about the services but can also increase community awareness about immigrants’ issues and importance. As the needs assessment process is not standardized, SPOs develop and use a variety of their own tools. While these individual tools may be appropriate, there may be needs that are not identified. Standard tools and continuous assessment would be useful to ensure that a full range of needs are assessed consistently among all SPOs.
Para-counselling services aim to assist newcomers in problem-solving by helping them to define their problems and to identify resources that are available to them. There is difficulty among SPOs in understanding the scope and breath of services and resources that should be provided towards para-counselling and mental health in general. Greater clarity and precision from CIC regarding these issues is required.
3) The most prevalent positive impact of ISAP was newcomers’ being able to identify and address their settlement needs and learn about other services in their community that can help them. ISAP services also had a major impact on helping newcomers find employment. In addition, many SPOs engage in service bridging activities to improve the accessibility of community and non-settlement organizations.
ISAP services were successful in addressing the settlement needs of newcomers. In particular, ISAP was effective in helping most newcomers understand their settlement needs, meet their basic daily needs, learn about other existing services in the community, and set goals relating to settlement and adaptation.
The importance of the employment component of ISAP, specifically the provision of job search activities, had a major impact on assisting newcomers search and apply for a job by helping them take the initial steps such as preparing a proper Canadian résumé, establishing their employment goals, and obtaining job interview skills. In addition, almost half of respondents attributed finding a job to participation in the Program.
Almost all SPOs also engaged in a variety of service bridging activities with community and non-settlement organisations, which have raised awareness of newcomer issues and have led to the development of partnerships to support newcomers.
4) The design and delivery of the Program were sufficiently clear, however the coordination between partners needs improvement.
Coordination and developing partnerships among governments, SPOs and non-settlement organisations is a means to provide more comprehensive and integrated settlement services. While many partnerships were developed through ISAP, there are still opportunities for increased collaboration. Improving coordination and strengthening partnerships across the various federal, provincial, and municipal jurisdictions involved in the provision of settlement services encourages greater commitment to settlement programming and can help to identify gaps in the settlement services as well as opportunities for improvement. Better coordination will enable more holistic and comprehensive approaches to meeting the needs of immigrants as well as the priorities of governments and can also reduce the duplication of services in a community and increase access to services, including services for newcomers who may not have been eligible under ISAP. Many SPOs deliver services in partnership with other community organizations such as libraries, hospitals and schools, which result in the provision of comprehensive settlement services to a wide range of newcomers. Beyond partnerships between SPOs and non-settlement organizations, collaboration and information sharing across SPOs can increase efficiency and reduce the potential for duplication of services (e.g., cross-referrals to SPOs with expertise in a particular area or the development of a one-stop shop for all services similar to the Vaughn Welcome Centre).
5) CIC lacks an approach to collect outcome data which makes it difficult to demonstrate the achievements of ISAP. Although iCAMS collects data on clients and the provision of services, the system is only partially effective to support monitoring, evaluation and decision-making.
To date, CIC lacks a comprehensive system to track client outcomes at the Program and project levels. As a result, the department is critically limited in its ability to report on the difference its programming is making.
In addition, iCAMS is limited in its ability to produce information on outputs that would be useful for decision makers. For instance, while iCAMS does track the number of clients served and the number and type of services provided, it is not possible to obtain a complete picture of clients and services as a result of aggregate reporting.
Finally, data in iCAMS is incomplete as a significant proportion of SPOs are not reporting. Of those that do report, not all are sure that they are using it correctly.
6) Overall, CIC and SPOs had sufficient capacity to deliver ISAP, however there are several areas in which capacity could be improved.
While there are a variety of tools that CIC has developed to support program delivery by CIC and SPOs, there are gaps in areas such as forms, program guidelines and management tools such as templates for reports. In addition, some tools are outdated and do not correspond to the modernized approach implemented in 2008. While ISAP B projects developed tools and resources to strengthen capacity, there is a need for mechanisms to ensure that products such as these will be made available to target users and that their effectiveness will be assessed.
Stakeholders identified the need for more qualified personnel at CIC local and regional offices with specific skill sets in dealing with accountability, finance, and monitoring issues. Additional training for CIC as well as SPOs was also identified as a means to ensure more effective management and delivery of settlement services.
The growth in number of clients and numbers of services delivered did not keep pace with the growth in funding (for ISAP core and other programs). Therefore, the Program appeared to become more expensive to run. However, it is unknown whether this was, in fact, the case, or whether the Program was simply been unable to demonstrate its growth because of weaknesses in the data collection systems. As ISAP includes many different components and as the sources of data and coding system varied throughout the years, calculating the ISAP expenditures for the components covered by this report was challenging. However, CIC has improved its ability to track budget and expenditures for specific components in recent years. Given the issues encountered on the number of clients and services as well as the challenges related to the information on expenditures it is not possible to assess cost-effectiveness.
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