Settlement Workers In Schools (SWIS)
The first few years in Canada can be particularly difficult for newcomer students and their families. The SWIS program is intended to support newcomer families who have settlement needs during their initial years in Canada. Families that have long-term settlement issues or who require intensive support are referred to settlement agencies and other community support services. SWIS enhance student achievement and support families in the acculturation process by connecting them to schools and to community services and resources.

There are 15 SWIS workers presently in the Richmond School District. SWIS workers are present at the initial ESL assessment and orientation at the District ESL Reception Centre. They welcome families and facilitate understanding of the Canadian school system as well as provide interpretation in the discussion of the ESL assessment results. In addition, there are SWIS assigned to each school. At the school level, SWIS receive new clients through referrals. When settlement issues arise, the newcomer family knows it can access SWIS support. Furthermore, each SWIS is assigned to a service/resource area of expertise, in order to collect information for the other SWIS, to liaise with the service/resource area and to link in-service opportunities for training all SWIS regarding each area.

Here is a copy of the brochure shared with new families in reception (also available in Chinese, Russian, Tagalog and Punjabi).

What is the role of the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS)?
• To provide settlement support to all newcomer families and their children, as they require assistance in adjusting to their new surroundings;
• To provide information to students and their families about schooling and community services in Richmond and British Columbia and/or provide referrals to the services as required;
• To bridge home-school communication, accessing community services and resources and supporting families in the integration process;
• To assist the newcomer students and their parents in adapting to the local school system.

Services to Schools
• To provide information about the newcomer students’ needs and issues; helping school staff to understand a family’s situation;
• To provide support for newcomer students and their families as per school staff requests through information sessions and/or workshops;
• To support two-way communication between the home and the school.

Services to Parents
• To help parents who are new to the community understand the Canadian school system through orientation/information meetings and workshops; and individual information and referral sessions;
• To promote access for parents and families to make connections with the broader school community.

How to Access the Services of a Settlement Worker?
Settlement Workers In Schools (SWIS) are assigned to all public schools in Richmond. In partnership with the school, the SWIS worker systematically contacts all newcomer families to orient them to school and community resources and to refer them to specific services.
Families may contact SWIS:
• Through local schools: parents may inform their child’s school of their need for services. Referrals will be made through the school to the Settlement Worker;
• Through the Richmond School District Reception Center during initial enrolment in the Richmond school system.

Cultural Interpreters (CI's)
The Richmond School District presently employs 5 Cultural Interpreters who are available to assist schools and their communities. They offer service in a variety of languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Hindi/Urdu, French, Russian, Ukrainian, Pilipino, Tagalog, and Bicol, reflecting the diverse multicultural and multilingual population of Richmond. All Cultural Interpreters offer training to promote and foster cross-cultural understanding and celebrate cultural diversity within the school system and community. For example, during the District Convention for all employees, administrators, teachers and CUPE members, Cultural Interpreters have provided workshops and information sessions on the topic of how to use cultural diversity as a resource in our school and community context.

Parent Volunteers
The District maintains a database of over 100 parent volunteers from different language and cultural backgrounds, who have received training in interpretation and translation, and who are willing to assist school staff. Parents are quite often used to translate documents and provide interpretation of a non-confidential nature between parents and school staff. You can access these volunteers through Patti Pascal at or by phone at 778-835-1018.

Thus, when accessing interpretation and translation services, please consider the following:
- Newcomer families receive welcoming support from SWIS workers;
- Meetings involving students that are of a confidential nature should be directed to the CI’s;
- Non-confidential interpretation needs such as parent conferences or parent information evenings should be directed to bilingual parent volunteers via Patti Pascal, or by phone at 778-835-1018;
- District document translation should be directed to CI’s via Margarita Oustinova, or by phone at 778-835-1272;
- Non-confidential translation needs such as school notices and newsletters should be directed to parent volunteers via Patti Pascal, although please review the Translated Documents folder first.
Translated Documents Folder
A translated documents folder on Richnet is available for clerical and ESL staff to access district documents in a translated form. The documents are available in a variety of languages. The initiative is ongoing and continues to emerge as new documents are requested and completed. We encourage schools to use this folder.

Some Examples of the Multilingual Documents on Richnet in the Translated Documents folder:
  • Assessment – A Parent’s Guide
  • Early Learning Centres
  • ESL Appointment Confirmation
  • FDK-Full Day Kindergarten
  • Legal Guardianship
  • Math IRP Information for Parents
  • Peanut Allergy
  • Registration Package (Transfers, Registration for Secondary, Registration for Elementary)
  • Report Cards
  • Safety Alert
  • “Snippets” i.e. Commonly Used Messages In Schools (translated short messages in multiple languages regarding school hours, lunch hour, phone use, homework reminder, Pro-D reminder, PAC Meeting, Early Dismissal, Food Day, etc.)

This folder is found within the Clerical folder on Richnet

Annual Volunteer Appreciation Tea
Cultural Interpreters and the District Curriculum Coordinator organize an annual Appreciation Tea for all parent volunteers. District staff showcases the many accomplishments of our parent volunteers in their work in schools. Parents are honoured for their support in interpretation, translation, Friendship and Multicultural Clubs. This annual event is held in the School Districts Boardroom and is attended by over 100 parent volunteers. We are always looking for volunteers. Parents who are interested should contact one of the Cultural Interpreters for information on how to get involved.