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  • Social Service Worker - Immigrants and Refugees (Accelerated)

    Social Service Worker - Immigrants and Refugees (Accelerated)

Program Code:SSIA
Duration:3 Semesters (12 Months)
Start Dates:Summer,
Start dates are subject to change
Credential Awarded:Ontario College Diploma

Program Description

Social Service Worker – Immigrants and Refugees prepares you to succeed as a social service provider working with immigrants and refugees from diverse backgrounds. With a framework based on equity, social justice and anti–oppression principles, this program provides you with a thorough understanding of pre–migration conditions that cause individuals and communities to leave their countries of origin. The program also prepares you to help clients with challenges they face throughout the process of migration and during the process of integration at the host country.

As a graduate, you will possess skills in the areas of international and national migration policies as well as settlement counselling, case management, information and referral, community development, advocacy, fundraising and proposal writing, program planning, development and evaluation. These skills will be supported by an in–depth knowledge about ways in which the intersection of race, class, gender, nationality, ability, education, religion, immigration status, and sexual orientation hinder or improve the living conditions of immigrants and refugees.

In the program you are challenged to examine your own beliefs and values and promote social justice, human dignity and equality. Your success in this program is measured by your ability to grow and change, and by your academic performance. Your experience is enriched through group interaction and individual work within the classroom setting, seminar format, and by the integration of field placement experience with theoretical knowledge. Field work prepares you for employment. It allows you to gain hands–on experience and to learn about organizational operations and initiatives and sector–wide initiatives. The accelerated program is demanding and requires students with good academic, time management, and interpersonal skills.

Program Learning Outcomes:

This Seneca College program meets the system-wide standards as set by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

As a graduate, you will be prepared to reliably demonstrate the ability to:

  • Develop and maintain professional relationships which adhere to professional, legal, and ethical standards aligned to social service work.
  • Identify strengths, resources, and challenges of individuals, families, groups, and communities to assist them in achieving their goals.
  • Recognize diverse needs and experiences of individuals, groups, families, and communities to promote accessible and responsive programs and services.
  • Identify current social policy, relevant legislation, and political, social, and/or economic systems and their impacts on service delivery.
  • Advocate for appropriate access to resources to assist individuals, families, groups, and communities.
  • Develop and maintain positive working relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and community partners.
  • Develop strategies and plans that lead to the promotion of self-care, improved job performance, and enhanced work relationships.
  • Integrate social group work and group facilitation skills across a wide range of environments, supporting growth and development of individuals, families, and communities.
  • Work in communities to advocate for change strategies that promote social and economic justice and challenge patterns of oppression and discrimination.

Essential Employability Skills:

Graduates of this program are also expected to demonstrate the essential employability skills learning outcomes as outlined on the Ministry of Training, College and Universities website.

Admission Requirements

Program Eligibility:

  • A recognized Bachelor of Arts degree or a post secondary diploma in Social Sciences. (Under special circumstances, graduates from other related program areas may be considered.)
  • Students with credentials from a foreign institution must be evaluated course by course through WES or ICAS.
  • English proficiency at the college level.
  • See Accelerated Delivery Mode Section.

Applicant Selection:

  • Acceptance in the program will be based on the feasibility of granting advanced standing in certain required courses as outlined in the Advanced Standing and Prior Learning section. In the event of oversubscription for places in this program, students may be selected using some or all of the following criteria: attendance at a mandatory program orientation; proof of volunteer/equivalent experience in social or community service; prior academic achievement.


  • Vulnerable Sector Police Screening for students in the School of Community Services Program: Students who live in the City of Toronto can expect to wait a minimum of 8-12 weeks to receive a Vulnerable Sector Screening report from Toronto Police Services. Please use the attached form to apply for your VSS at least 8-12 weeks prior to the beginning of your first placement, suggested submission dates are listed below. You must print this form on 8 1/2" x14” paper (legal size); if you don’t it will be returned to you! It is preferred that you take this completed form and $15 in person to 40 College St in Toronto to begin the process. You may also mail it with a CERTIFIED CHEQUE or MONEY ORDER for $15.00 to Toronto Police Services, 40 College St. Toronto ON, M5G 2J3. Please be aware that forms can and have been lost in the mail and that forms filled out incorrectly will be returned, both situations will make the process much longer. Alternately you can pick up a preprinted form at the SSW/IR offices at your campus; King room GH1141, S@Y room T0021 and Yorkgate front desk.
  • Students entering programs in January will begin placement in July (suggested VSS submission date: on or before February 15) Students entering the accelerated program in May will begin placement in September (suggested VSS submission date: on or before April 15) Students entering programs in September will be starting placement in January (suggested VSS submission date: on or before August 15)

  • Students who live in York, Durham and Peel regions may visit their local police station where forms are available there. Please allow 3-4 weeks for these regional checks to be completed. International students please contact your Placement Officer for more information.


  • A current Police vulnerable sector screening is REQUIRED for entry into the field practice component of this program.
  • Field experience in settlement related agencies is considered an asset.

The Importance of Learning Skills:

Student success in college requires well developed learning skills (such as being able to work independently, participate in a team, be well-organized, develop good work habits, and show initiative). These skills are as important as prior academic achievement. While it is expected that applicants would have developed these skills through previous education and life experiences, Seneca offers support to assist students with further development of these important skills. Seminars, workshops and tutoring are available at Seneca's Learning Centres.


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Your Career

Earn your Social Service Worker – Immigrants and Refugees diploma in three semesters with this accelerated program. As a SSIA student, your career may lead you to employment with mainstream service organizations as well as settlement agencies, schools, shelter for refugees, community centers, parenting drop–in centers, the criminal justice system, health, reception centers, women’s programs and shelters, and agencies offering services for immigrant youth, people dealing with disabilities, mental health, addiction, poverty, and intergenerational challenges. Based on your skills, interest and professional background, you can work as a job search workshop facilitator, host program worker, settlement worker, housing worker, school settlement worker, or within settings that directly deal with advocacy or policy–related initiatives.

Upon graduation, you will be eligible for registration with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.


An accelerated, full-time SSIA diploma program for those who have already graduated with a degree or post secondary diploma.

(The standard program is SSWI).

Accelerated Delivery Mode

This is an accelerated program for those who have completed a post secondary diploma or a three or four–year degree. This program consists of a 7–week intensive summer semester (Semester 1) starting in early May each year, followed by a regular academic year commencing the day after Labour Day and concluding in mid-April (Semesters 2 and 3).

Field Work

As a student in SSIA, your field work will begin in semester two. Field work provides you with a valuable opportunity to apply your learning to the workplace. In order to be eligible for field work, you will be required to meet the criteria as set out in the “Social Service Worker Student Code of Conduct”. In the placement, you will benefit from supervision, and have specified hours, duties and accountabilities to both the College and agency representative. Field work is a mutually agreed contract for which you will be evaluated by the field placement supervisor. The minimum commitment is the successful completion of specific periods as set out in the Field Placement Student Contract.

Please note that students may be required to return to school during the Academic Advisement Week in January in order to do a block placement. The Social Service Worker – Immigrants and Refugees Program courses are lecture and tutorial based utilizing texts; some courses are policy and practice–oriented, and others focus on interpersonal skills and group interactions. Students can expect to spend 20 to 25 hours each week on assignments, as well as two days per week in field placement in semesters two and three.

Provincial Registration

In order to practice in Ontario as a "Social Service Worker" or a "Registered Social Service Worker", graduates must apply for registration in the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). Graduates of the SSWI program will meet the education requirement for registration. For more information, please visit


Advanced Standing and Prior Learning

Qualified applicants should have previous post–secondary credits from Canada or abroad that will allow Seneca to grant advanced standing in EAC150, the general education components and some professional components of the SSIA program (marked with * in the list of courses under curriculum heading). An official transcript and course outlines are required for courses to be considered for advanced standing. Only courses with a minimum grade of 60% are eligible. Advanced standing may not be granted until the applicant has registered for the program. Applicants who do not receive advanced standing for EAC150, College English, will be required to sit for the College English Assessment Test.

Important Academic Dates

Please take a few moments to view Important Academic Dates for your relevant semester.


All subjects taken during May/June semester must be successfully completed before entrance into the fall semester.

Students who are granted advanced standing in the May/June semester may be required to substitute another first year course in exchange.

Semester 1 Course Name Hrs/Wk
EAC150 * College English 3
SSW101 Interpersonal Communications 3
SSW102 Diversity: Awareness and Practice 3
SSW212 The Helping Interview and Principles of Practice 3
WIR100 * Introduction to the Immigrant and Refugee Sector 3
WIR147 Field Seminar: Laws, Principles and Ethics 3
WIR208 Social Policy, Legislation and Government Systems 3
Semester 2 Course Name Hrs/Wk
SSW311 Case Co-ordination and Advocacy Strategies 3
SSW312 Supportive Counselling 3
WIR347 Integrative Field Work Seminar 2
WIR357 Field Placement 14
WIR377 selected Issues I: Fundraising and Project Management 3
XXXXXX * General Education Option 3
XXXXXX * General Education Option 3
Semester 3 Course Name Hrs/Wk
SSW201 Group Dynamics for Social Service Professionals 3
SSW402 * Community Practice 3
WIR227 Individual and Family in a Multicultural Context 3
WIR247 * Integrative Field Work Seminar 2
WIR257 * Field Placement 14
WIR407 * Selected Issues II:Violence,Mntl.Hlth.,Addictions 3
WIR408 Migration and Trauma 3
WIR447 Integrative Field Work Seminar 2
WIR457 Field Placement 14
XXXXXX * General Education Option 3

* See section on Advanced Standing and Prior Learning Experience.

Contact Us

Admissions Advisors:
Domestic Admissions Advisor: Mary Campbell
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 22815
International Admissions Advisor: Valentyna Gorodovych
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 22432
Registration & Records Advisor:
  Julie Berns
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 33007
Program Contacts:
Program Coordinator: Soheila Pashang
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 55506
Program Chair: Biljana Bruce
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 55002
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