With the onset of COVID-19, everything is in flux, with organizations forced to rethink how they deliver services to their clients. CCS is no exception.

Normally, CCS offers full and part-time classes to help newcomers improve their English skills through our Language Instruction for Newcomers in Canada (LINC) program. But with the
the world seemingly shut down, social services’ agencies like us have had to be nimble and pivot from a mostly in-person service model to delivery that is virtual with students learning off a device at home.

LINC began making an online offering available in mid-April. The challenge is there are many parents who may have kids at home now too, given schools are closed. And that’s where things get tricky — as anybody working from home with kids on the scene can attest. Who’s occupying them while clients are busy trying to focus and learn online? Workers from our Care for Newcomer Children (CNC) program (for kids up to the age of six) normally provide this function onsite when the English classes are held at one of our LINC locations. But now they’ve been doing it online too, conducting fun and interactive activities with the children, including yoga, dancing, singing and a reading circle at precisely the same time as their parents are also online taking the class.

And for kids older than six, workers from CCS’ Family Literacy Program have stepped in to work with this cohort on their reading skills and organize fun activities to keep them busy while their parents are on the computer at class.

“It’s great to see families still able to take the classes and continue learning during these challenging times and I’m proud of my team for helping to make it happen,” said Monica Zheng, Settlement Services Manager.

The LINC team also created and packaged kits for families to use at home, containing colouring pencils, paper, and other arts and crafts-related items, so families can practice what they’re learning online — and have some fun too with so much down time right now.

The Family Literacy Program is normally a free service offered at CCS locations in Scarborough, Brampton and Mississauga, connecting families with community resources to promote practical habits around language learning as a family activity. Group literacy-building workshops with strategies for parents to enhance their child’s learning and development are run. A key component of the program is a lending library that offers specialized resources tailored to the child or the adult’s language level. In this way, parents are positioned to improve their own literacy skills and knowledge base to help them in their role as basically their child’s first English teacher.

CCS is adapting to the new, temporary reality we find ourselves in by finding ways to continue to provide services and help our clients as best we can. As the philosopher, Plato, once said: “necessity is the mother of invention”.

Photos: Family kit photos