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T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Are Social Workers Ready to Serve Newcomers? Miu Chung Yan, Ph.D. Associate Professor School.

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Presentation on theme: "T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Are Social Workers Ready to Serve Newcomers? Miu Chung Yan, Ph.D. Associate Professor School."— Presentation transcript:

1 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Are Social Workers Ready to Serve Newcomers? Miu Chung Yan, Ph.D. Associate Professor School of Social Work University of British Columbia Email: miu.yan@ubc.camiu.yan@ubc.ca

2 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Conceptualizing the Challenges of Newcomers Physical Challenges Structural Challenges Health Challenges Familial Challenges Newcomer Migration Process

3 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Challenges to Newcomers Physical: –Climate changes – ways of living, health concern –Living arrangement – ghettolization, urbanization and suburbanization –Limited mobility – strange place, inadequate public transportation Structural: –Economic challenges – employment and financial condition, transnational economic support (astronaut families) –Social challenges – housing and social networks –Cultural challenges – language, adaptation, ways of living, value conflicts –Discriminatory challenges – discriminations against their cultural, racial, newcomer status

4 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Challenges to Newcomers Health and mental health: –Mental health – anxiety and stress, homesick, posttraumatic problems, identity crisis (loss of status and adaptation to new roles) –Physical health – overworking, new diet –Lack of knowledge and access to health care service Familial: –Marital relationship – change in traditional gender role –Intergenerational conflicts – cultural and language differences, challenges to traditional parenting practice –Transnational relationship – satellite kids, grandparent care, womens burden

5 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Social Work & Newcomers Where are social workers in newcomer settlement process? What roles are SWr playing in newcomers settlement process?

6 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Social Work & Newcomers (1) Areas where social work trained personnel play no key role. –Primary: prevent problems from happening, developmental programs – Settlement service, employment Counselling, community development Orientation and adaptation to new ways of living Job, employment, housing, education, language Re-establish new social capitals (within and between groups) Only a handful of mainly foreign trained social workers

7 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Social Work & Newcomers (2) Major areas where social workers are playing critical roles: –Secondary: early stage intervention to change or control the causes – e.g., family and individual counselling services, recovery support –Tertiary: reducing the harms of the problems, crisis intervention – e.g., family crisis, mental health breakdown, child abuse cases, institutional services

8 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A BCASW Study Exploratory study, online survey conducted in April 2007 Research question: Are BCASW members ready to work with newcomers? 4 sections: a.Nature of service and organization, b.knowledge of newcomers, c.Training (Special Skill Set), d.Demographic data. Last for about four weeks with two emails sent to all members Only members of BCASW (about 1150 people) 218 people visited the survey (about 20% of total membership) 195 answered up to Q#5 (skipping sections b to d) 187 answered up to Q#13 (skipping section c and d) 186 completed the whole survey (skipping section d)

9 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Demographic Profile N=186 154 (F), 32 (M) Age: Average 47 (median 45-49, mode 50-54) 140 born in Canada 22 Racial minority, 51 cultural minority (self identified) BSW 61, MSW 95, Other 30 (in progress) 84 Working in Health and Mental Health related services, 42 family and child protection, only 5 immigrant settlement related services

10 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Major Findings (Total 217 answers) Most respondents are working in organizations (n=144, 66.3%) or programs (n=161, 74.2%) that do not have a specific mandate to serve newcomers. In their current job, most respondents will not be notified (n=124, 57.2%) or are required to know (n=138, 63.6%) the immigrant status of their clients. Only 25 (11.5%) respondents reported that issues of newcomers are routinely discussed in their organizations meeting, which 56 reported occasionally, 75 (34.6%) seldom and 61 (28.1) not that they can recall.

11 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Imminent Issues of Newcomers and Respondents Perception of Preparation Q.6 Frequent Come across Q7 Imminent required sw intervention Q8 Least Prepared answer options%% Spousal relationship/relationship with partner25.13%23.08%17.95% Intergenerational relationship19.49%18.46%22.05% Economic security34.87%34.36%18.97% Employment25.64%31.79%18.46% Housing18.97%26.15%11.79% Emotional and mental health issues35.38%38.97%17.95% Health Issues17.44%12.82%5.13% Cultural adaptation28.21%44.62%36.92% Racial discrimination8.72%11.79%19.49% Sexual orientation1.03% 13.33% Immigration matters such as status and sponsorship25.13%20.51% 44.10% Language38.46%16.41%32.82% Other (please specify)10.77%8.21%9.23% answered question n=195 (Up to three choices) It seems that social workers are prepared to handle economic security and emotional/mental health issues. The respondents perceived that they are not well prepared for policies related issues, cultural adaptation and language.

12 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Knowledge of I/R Policies Q.9 How much do you know about the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)? answer optionsResponse Percent I am pretty familiar with this Act5.64% I have some knowledge of this Act20.00% I have heard of this Act but not the details52.31% I have never heard of this Act22.05% Q.10 How much do you know about the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement? answer optionsResponse Percent I am pretty familiar with this Agreement5.13% I have some knowledge of the Agreement9.74% I have heard of this Agreement but not the details29.74% I have never heard of this Agreement55.38% N=195

13 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Respondents Self Perception of Readiness For each of the following statements, please check the most suitable answer answer options Strongly Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree Response Count I always pay close attention to news about newcomers. 10.8%49.2%37.9%2.1% 195 I am quite familiar with policies that affect newcomers. 5.6%23.6%62.1%8.7% 195 I am quite familiar with the difficulties that newcomers in Canada face. 18.5%56.4%21.0%4.1% 195 I am well prepared to work with immigrants. 12.8%30.3%48.2%8.7% 195 I am well prepared to work with refugees 9.7%19.0%54.9%16.4% 195 answered question195

14 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A In-service Training As their own professional growth, out of the 187 respondents, 65.78% reported, having taken courses on cultural sensitivity and 39.75% on antiracist practice. Only 18.18% took course specifically on how to work with newcomers. How many of their employers did provide these kinds of training to them? Which of the following issue(s) has any of the organization(s) that you have worked with provided you with in-service training? (Except the answer "None of the above", please check as many issues as you may have.) answer optionsResponse Percent Working with culturally different clients64.71% Working with visible minority clients43.32% Working with immigrants21.39% Working with refugees11.76% None of the above30.48% answered question = 187

15 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Were Respondents Prepared at School to Work with Newcomers? Out of the 187 respondents answered this question, only 26.74% (n=50) reported that they took course specifically on issues related to newcomers when they were in school. Then how about their impression on newcomers related materials covered in different courses of the program that they had gone through? Q.18 Looking back to the social work training program that you had gone through, how much material related to how to work with newcomers was included in different courses of the program? answer options Response Percent Almost in every course that I know4.28% Only covered in a special course specifically on working with newcomers 8.56% Only covered in a handful of courses that I know 24.06% Rarely covered in any courses that I know46.52% No material was covered in all courses10.16% Cant remember6.42% answered question = 187

16 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Skill Set Needed 76.47% and 73.8% respondents suggested that a general cross-cultural and a general anti-oppressive social work courses are necessary but not sufficient to equip them to serve newcomers. The overwhelming reasons are: 1.Existing courses are too general and not practical 2.Requiring specific knowledge about newcomers: i.specific policies and programs affecting their life chance ii.newcomers have specific needs, issues, challenges and problems due to their migration process and status

17 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Suggestions to Social Work Education Is course on working with newcomers needed? –BSW Level: Required course: 55.08% Selective course: 40.64% –MSW level: Required course: 44.39% Selective course: 49.20% What needs to be included? Canadian immigrant history Policies and legislation relevant to newcomers Programs, services, resources and information Needs, challenges and difficulties of newcomers Health and mental health issues related to migration Creative approaches

18 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Suggestions for BCASW If BCASW is going to organize professional training on how to work with newcomers, what kind of format of training will you want BCASW to offer? (Please check as many as you see fit.) answer options Response Percent Continuing education certificate course 56.68% Workshops80.75% Online courses51.34% Telephone courses19.25% Other (please specify)11.23% answered question = 187 What should be included? Cross-cultural training: Cultural sensitivity, communication skills, assessment and intervention strategies Anti-racism training Policies, legislations, services, resources and programs Pattern of immigration and settlement process and needs Newcomers health and mental health issues: e.g. survivors of torture, issues related to grief and loss, PTSD

19 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Observations Are (BC) Social Workers ready? Not quite! –Lack of understanding of the migration process, policies, challenges and conditions of migrants, programs and services: Impacting problem assessments Limiting the advocacy role Lack of resource to match needs and services –Minimal role in the primary level of helping: Passive in helping newcomers to settle – crisis oriented form of helping LSIC – newcomers dont go to professional human and health service professionals Therapeutization of the social work profession –Culturalization or racialization of newcomer problems –Insensitive to demographic and social change in social work curriculum and in-service training

20 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Implications Implications for newcomer settlement –Social service providers lack knowledge and sensitivity of newcomers settlement needs. –Lack of professional social work service to prevent and support newcomers to deal with personal and familial problems in the early settlement stage. –LSIC results – not seeking help from professionals. –Division of labour or fragmentation of social service in supporting newcomer settlement? What can (should) be done? –Systematic (national) study on the readiness of human and health professions such as nurse, teachers, medical doctor and social workers. –For the social work profession: Social work professional associations take an active role in newcomers issues Developing appropriate curriculum for social work education Social service organizations –Review intake policy and practice to sensitize workers with clients newcomer status –Provide specific and relevant in-service training


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