Within CWICE our work involves advocacy, direct service, capacity building and training, consulting on policy development, and research. Our staff navigate multiple complex systems every day and we celebrate their contributions to the field of child welfare and profession of social work at large.
To contribute to the celebration, Celistine Frampton of CWICE provided her reflections on our important work.
As a social worker, Celistine works in CWICE as a Child Welfare Worker/Immigration Specialist, and she’s been practicing since 2012. Celistine works alongside other child welfare agencies (Children's Aid Societies in Ontario), when they are working with clients who have unresolved immigration needs. Often Celistine assists children and youth in out-of-home care with their permanent resident or citizenship applications. She shared, “I dedicate a lot of my time to advocacy, whether it’s assisting children registering for school when they are facing barriers, or advocating for someone to have access to legal representation.”
Celistine also co-trains CWICE 106, a course in the CWICE certificate training series for child welfare professionals. This course explores best practice approaches in the placement of children with next of kin across international borders. The course also examines current immigration streams many families utilize, including an examination of family sponsorship and economic immigration streams.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Celistine has been focusing on adapting her practice and delivering training in new ways. “The pandemic taught me to be more efficient, using Zoom or Microsoft teams when reviewing immigration applications with clients or workers. We come together for a collaborative meeting, often with multiple partners across Canada.” In one situation, Celistine led the planning and coordination for a Canadian citizen youth repatriating back to Canada. The digital tools we’ve utilized during the pandemic have really enabled us to plan with partners around the world, for the betterment of children and youth in multiple different situations.
Celistine also acknowledged the numerous ways the pandemic has placed many individuals in vulnerable positions.
“During the pandemic, it was heartbreaking to hear clients’ stories where their immigration application or refugee hearing was taking longer than normal to be processed due to system backlogs. Many needed that work permit so they could provide financially for their families. At CWICE, we are creative. We brainstormed ways to access resources for our clients. On an ongoing basis we share resources with each other and staff across our field of practice.”
Celistine shared one of the most fulfilling parts of her social work career is having the opportunity to assist clients with their immigration matters. “As an immigrant who has had to navigate the immigration system on my own, I understand firsthand how difficult this could be for a child or youth who does not have the assistance of a parent or caregiver.” Over the last few years, Celistine has completed and submitted many citizenship and permanent resident applications for children and youth across Ontario. In the last few months, she has begun receiving approvals for several applications that were lagging in the system during the pandemic. She shared, “It is rewarding to see this process come to a conclusion and to celebrate this significant milestone with them.”
Celistine noted that some clients seek asylum in Canada after experiencing war in their home country, so achieving citizenship is an important event. She said, “permanent residency and citizenship provide clients a gateway to additional opportunities, such as the ability to travel to see family, access to health care, employment, or even the right to vote.” Celistine shared how rewarding it is to see clients have a voice, achieve their objectives, and she knows they continue to contribute positively to Canada, the country they now call their permanent home.
As she looks toward her work this year, Celistine discussed a CWICE service project underway. “Another aspect of my work that brings me joy is the opportunity to co-lead a project in CWICE and Peel Children’s Aid Society (Peel CAS), known as The Immigration Status Project. This involves looking into every instance of a child or youth in out-of-home care with Peel CAS.” This project did groundbreaking work last year, and Celistine and her colleague identify any unresolved immigration status issues for our clients, so we may all ensure individuals have access to pathways for citizenship.
We thank Celistine for her leadership and ongoing dedication to our clients, our colleagues, our field, and for delivering excellent services.
The CWICE teams wish to thank all social workers for their ongoing advocacy for clients. Wishing you a happy Social Work Week and Month 2023!
About the author:
Danielle Ungara (RSW) co-manages the day-to-day operations of the Ontario-wide Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence at Peel CAS. Danielle is an inclusive leader of integrity and believes in furthering social justice outcomes and equity in practice through service excellence and research.