Lost password

Information and Referral on Settlement.Org

(adapted from Alliance of Information & Referral Systems (AIRS))

As users of Settlement.Org, you have certain rights and responsibilities.  We have adapted the following information to provide you with more information about how our service works and what you can expect as a user.

Settlement.Org is an internet-based, specialized Information and Referral service for new immigrants to Ontario.  One of the cornerstones of our service is the Settlement.Org Discussion area.

Information and Referral Bill of Rights

Settlement.Org supports the Alliance of Information & Referral Systems practices that respect everyone’s right to:

  1. Anonymous and/or confidential access to information.
  2. Be empowered to the extent possible.
  3. Assistance based on the inquirer's personal value system.
  4. Treatment based on respect and sensitivity to cultural, generational and age/disability related differences.
  5. Self-determination and the opportunity to access the most appropriate I&R service available in the human services system.
  6. Accurate and comprehensive information about services.
  7. An appropriate level of support in obtaining services.
  8. A grievance procedure if they feel they have not received satisfactory service from the I&R specialist.

Philosophy of Information and Referral

Information and referral specialists are unique in their understanding of and sensitivity to the needs of people seeking help and information.  Settlement.Org shall:

  1. Attempt to understand each inquirer’s situation including the origins of the difficulty, the feelings inquirers have about their circumstances, the personal resources inquirers may bring to bear on the issue, and the barriers to resolution of the problem.
  2. Offer immediate and appropriate response when the individual is experiencing a crisis or other emergency situation.
  3. Offer help and information within the scope of our knowledge, skills and authority and refer to other specialists when necessary. 
  4. Ensure that discussion area postings are relevant to the topic being discussed, are factually accurate
  5. Be available, not to solve inquirers’ problems for them, but to empower inquirers to understand and solve their own problems.
  6. Help inquirers prioritize their needs and build an action plan.
  7. Help inquirers identify resources that can meet their needs.
  8. Be careful not to overwhelm inquirers with a myriad of options or provide them with too few to allow them an informed choice.
  9. Encourage inquirers to follow up on their cases or post additional questions/concerns.

We also believe in the 12 Core Values of Settlement Work.  The Canadian Council for Refugees has identified twelve core values upon which Best Settlement Practices are based.

  1. Services are accessible to all who need them.
  2. Services are offered in an inclusive manner, respectful of and sensitive to diversity.
  3. Clients are empowered by services.
  4. Services respond to needs as defined by users.
  5. Services take account of the complex, multifaceted, interrelated dimensions of settlement and integration.
  6. Services are delivered in a manner that fully respects the rights and dignity of the individual.
  7. Services are delivered in a manner that is culturally sensitive.
  8. Services promote the development of newcomer communities and newcomer participation in the wider community and develop communities that are welcoming of newcomers.
  9. Services are delivered in a spirit of collaboration.
  10. Service delivery is made accountable to the communities served.
  11. Services are oriented towards promoting positive change in the lives of newcomers and in the capacity of society to offer equality of opportunity for all.
  12. Services are based on reliable, up-to-date information.

Main Functions of an Information and Referral Service

Settlement.Org is not a comprehensive or accredited Information and Referral service.  However, we believe in the AIRS standards and philosophy of Information and Referral and in seeking to provide the best, most consistent online service for newcomers to Ontario.  As a result, we are guided by the policies and practices outlined by AIRS.  Both our Content Coordinator and Discussion Area Moderator are AIRS Certified Information and Referral Specialists (CIRS).

Information and referral is the process of helping inquirers understand their problems and make informed decisions regarding possible solutions.  To accomplish this, Settlement.Org’s I&R service does the following:

  1. Works with community partners to provide access to comprehensive information about organizations that provide human services for the community.
  2. Provide information about or referral to human services to people who need them, ensuring that selected resources are affordable, accessible, geographically convenient and meet the individual's assessed needs.
  3. Provide problem solving assistance as needed.
  4. Encourage follow up with inquirers and/or service providers to determine whether the needed service was obtained and whether it adequately met the need.
  5. Develop cooperative relationships to build a coordinated information and referral system that maximizes the utilization of existing comprehensive and specialized I&R providers.
  6. Develop collaborative working relationships with local service providers to build an integrated services delivery system that ensures broad access to community services.
  7. Participate in community education activities regarding available services, providers and the service delivery system.

Settlement.Org does not:

  1. Tell you what to do.
  2. Recommend one particular service over another.
  3. Allow you or other users to engage in personal attacks or arguments with each other.
  4. Know everything about the human services system. However, we will be resourceful in accessing information, and communicate this information effectively to you.
  5. Provide legal advice.

Services for Individuals

We are a point of contact for new immigrants in Ontario who require information about or linkage with human service providers.  Our main goal is to help simplify access to the maze of social service programs and help people find the information and services that will best address their needs in the most difficult situations.  Ultimately, our work seeks to reinforce your capacity for self-reliance and self-determination through information, education, affirmation, advocacy, collaborative planning and problem solving.

There are times when we recognize when a situation is beyond our knowledge, skill or authority.  However, we stay current and aware of sources of information and know how to use them in order to provide you with a proper referral.  Our guarantee to you is that we will provide information in a timely manner that is complete, accurate and up-to-date.

Services for Communities

While we do not maintain an inventory of human services on the website, we work with community partners to provide access to such inventories for newcomers to Ontario.  Our website provides information alternatives for people who do not need the professional assistance of an I&R specialist.  You can find overviews of specific processes and services in our articles and guides.  Our Discussion area allows you to ask individualized or specific questions about your situation, so that we can provide you with information or referral to community services, experts or other information sources.  Our service is uniquely positioned to meet the information needs of individuals and families, as well as agencies, community planners and funding organizations.

Third Party Answering of Information & Referral Requests

A unique feature of Settlement.Org’s Information and Referral service is that we also allow for and encourage other site users to post replies, experiences and support.  In essence, our website encourages newcomers to help newcomers.

Settlement.Org expects that all Discussion area users adhere to the terms of agreement they agreed to when they registered on the site.  Given that we cannot expect other site users to be certified in the principles of Information and Referral, Settlement.Org staff moderate postings for accuracy, tone and comprehensiveness, before they are approved for public viewing.

All users must read and agree to our User Agreement before they can post messages to the Discussion forum.  Part of that agreement states explicitly that “we are authorized by you to remove or modify any data submitted by you to these forums for any reason we feel constitutes a violation of our policies, whether stated, implied or not.”

This is a very broad, but important statement.  In essence, if we decide that a posting or reply is not part of a productive part of information and referral exchange between users, we will either edit it or not post it.  Settlement.Org is not a discussion forum for people to engage in arguments against each other.  It is essential that our users feel that they can post their questions and receive information and referral that is accurate and non-judgemental.  On Settlement.Org, all postings are reviewed for their content, tone, accuracy, timeliness and how they meet our site policies and guidelines (including the Bill of Rights above).  Any postings that do not meet these criteria will be edited or deleted by Settlement.Org staff.

Our site is a place for newcomers to come to get excellent quality information and referral.  Any posting that does not further this goal, for any reason, will be edited or removed from our site.