Information, Orientation and Needs Assessment

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Information and Referral

Quick Facts Concepts, Skills and Terminology How to Learn More Find Services
Information, Orientation and Needs AssessmentSettlement workers need to have knowledge about information and referral (I&R) in order to understand newcomers' needs and connect them with appropriate services.

Quick Facts

  1. Health
  2. Income and Financial Assistance
  3. Housing
  4. Community Services
  5. Legal and Public Safety

Certification for I&R Professionals

Concepts, Skills & Terminology

Discover important concepts, definitions and terms relating to information and referral in the settlement sector.


  • Information and Referral
Information and Referral (I&R) is the art, science and practice of bringing people and services together. I&R is an integral component of the overall health and human services sector. (
  • Needs Assessment
An effective needs assessment involves active listening and effective questioning in order to understand the nature and extent of a person’s situation and determine appropriate resources. (OCASI Professional Development Conference - 2009)

Core Values of Settlement Work

(From the Settlement Information and Referral Training Manual - 2010)

  • Access
  • Inclusion
  • Empowerment
  • User-defined services
  • Holistic approach
  • Respect for the individual
  • Culturally sensitive
  • Community development
  • Collaboration
  • Accountability
  • Orientation towards positive change
  • Reliability

Characteristics of Information and Referral

(Adapted from the Settlement Information and Referral Training Manual - 2010)

  • Accessible
An I&R agency should be free of physical, linguistic, cultural and other barriers for everyone in the community who needs/wants its services.
  • Accountable
An I&R service should be accountable to the community it serves and must report to funders.
  • Confidential
Services provided by an I&R organization are confidential, and information obtained must not be shared except where permission has been granted, there is a danger of someone being harmed or there is a legal requirement.
  • Efficient
An I&R service must use its resources carefully to ensure an adequate number of trained staff can provide services and maintain resources databases.
  • Flexible
An I&R service should be able to adapt to the needs of the community.
  • Friendly
Friendliness helps clients feel comfortable using an I&R service and sets the tone for the remainder of the process.
  • Neutral
An I&R service must be open to all people and be non-political, non-sectarian and non-judgemental.
  • Optimum breadth and depth of scope
A comprehensive I&R service should be able to provide information about the entire spectrum of human services in its area while a specialized I&R service may maintain more in-depth information about a narrower subset of organizations.
  • Reliable
Accurate information and appropriate referrals are essential to maintaining the community's respect for and trust in an I&R service.
  • Respectful
Services provided by an I&R agency should respect the dignity of service users by not stigmatizing them or making them feel ashamed about needing assistance.
  • Sensitive
I&R staff should demonstrate sensitivity to the feelings and problems of all people by being attentive to what a person says and does or does not say or do.

How to Learn More

40px-Crystal package settings.png Featured Resource! Settlement Information and Referral Training Manual

Further your knowledge with practical guides, best practices, projects and research.

Find out how to become qualified to work in the field through online or classroom-based training.


Free online courses to help settlement workers build their skills offered by OCASI - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Individual and in-house group training for staff from immigrant service agencies whose positions are funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI)

Information and Referral

Needs Assessment

Best Practices/Practical Guides

Professional Associations/Networks

Further Reading

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