Back in 2000, to meet the needs of an ever growing and diverse population, Peel CAS developed an immigration team to support children, youth and families experiencing immigration challenges.
In responding to referrals from Canada’s largest airport, Pearson International Airport, the team developed specialized expertise in responding to children and youth who have faced a range of significant challenges. Some of the issues facing children and youth include: separation of family members, abduction, abuse, denial of education, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, human trafficking, smuggling, persecution due to sexuality, political persecution, and war/genocide. In addition, some children and youth returning to Canada face re-settlement challenges, such as gaps in education, adequate housing/long term accommodation, language barriers, and system navigation.
The Syrian Refugee Response Project ran from January 2016 to March 2019. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) designated Peel CAS as the lead child welfare agency to assist in supporting the resettlement of Syrian refugees. A dedicated Syrian Refugee Support Worker provided early intervention and support to Syrian newcomers, and helped families understand the services available in the child welfare sector.
This successful project was a key evolutionary step in the establishment of the Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence in 2018. Elements of the Syrian Refugee Response Project have been incorporated into our current CWICE service model.
On June 13, 2018 the Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence (CWICE) was launched by founding partners Peel CAS and OACAS. CWICE provides services related to a range of immigration-related issues within a child welfare context. These include supporting children and families with unresolved immigration status issues (in care and in the community), unaccompanied and separated children, and providing support for newcomers with children who are experiencing settlement issues.
In January 2020, CWICE hosted the first ever National Child Welfare Dialogue in Ottawa, which brought together senior leaders in the field from across Canada to discuss the intersection of immigration and child welfare. A follow-up gathering was held virtually in June to discuss current trends, and plans are in place to continue these dialogues with our partners in other provinces and territories. An executive summary for the January conference is now available.