Our Support Services are the vital programs that enable newcomers to access settlement and community services. Intake and needs assessment, interpretation and translation, and our Early Childhood Education Centres remove barriers and allow newcomers to access the services they need for successful integration.
In 2018-2019 we:
- welcomed nearly 16,000 visitors across three locations and answered over 14,700 phone calls
- provided 8,821 formal interpretation
- provided 1,058 translated documents
Early Childhood Education
Our ECE Centres serve 642 children—from infants to toddlers. The staff work with both children and their parents, providing structured activities and unique learning tools to help build relationships and create a strong foundation for learning.
Last year, ISANS introduced Squiggle Park, a digital literacy resource for ECE Centers to support newcomer children in their language development. Using tablets, up to 300 preschool aged children can through a series of language games with audio and visual cues. We use this innovative program to support many clients in vulnerable populations to create a positive parent-and-child learning experience.
An educational video game called Squiggle Park has proven to be a hit with children at ISANS’ Early Childhood Education Centre and Dina Alsamhouri’s son Jad, four and a half, is no exception. “It makes him feel so happy, and it encourages him to play more and learn more,” says Dina. “Squiggle Park is the most helpful, beautiful app I ever had.”
Dina says children can match letters from A to Z with words. “It’s not easy to find a game for their age, but what they’re learning keeps in their mind forever.” The popular game was created locally and features colourful monsters to help develop reading skills. Children have their own symbols as passwords and they can move up to higher levels. Her oldest son, Suleiman, is in grade one and also loves the game, playing it a couple times a week.
While Jad plays at our childcare, Dina studies English and has progressed from level three to six. Dina married in Jordan and came to Halifax in 2012 with her husband, Amer, who had lived here for 25 years. He and Dina met when he traveled to Jordan to visit her uncle and play table tennis. Amer has a business degree from Saint Mary’s University and drives cab while Dina takes care of the children and studies. She wants to pursue higher education when Jad starts school.
“Even if you do a small thing, they make you feel like you did something big. They encourage you to do more and more.”
Dina was connected with ISANS through her husband and her mother-in-law. She is effusive in her praise. “Even if you do a small thing, they make you feel like you did something big. They encourage you to do more and more,” she says. “I enjoy classes big time. Every teacher is different, but every teacher here has something special.” Dina enjoys meeting classmates from other countries. “You have the whole world without going anywhere! We’re all the same even if someone just finished high school and someone else is a doctor.”
Dina also hopes to enroll in the Welcome to Canada workshop and she has met with an employment counsellor to discuss her goals. She is considering becoming a lawyer but is content to first plan on a Bachelor of Arts degree and see what the future will bring. Teaching and public relations are also possible. “I like to talk,” she says, with a laugh.
Life in Halifax is good; she loves the city and finds it easy to get around. She attends conversation groups at the library and they often take the children to the Discovery Centre—their favourite place. She played volleyball and handball as a young woman and hopes to have time to do so again.
Dina has visited home since she immigrated, but not for several years. Although she has in-laws in the city, and a favourite uncle who might come, Dina says it would be easier if her parents were here. “And if we went every year to visit relatives in Jordan, I’d never leave Canada!” She could always take Squiggle Park along for the ride.