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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Bernstein, Hamutal; DuBois, Nicole
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    There is a major disconnect between the current policy debate and the reality of refugee outcomes in the US. After a tumultuous year of policy changes for the refugee resettlement program and as refugees are being framed as security, economic, and cultural threats, policymakers must consider the evidence base on the realities of refugees and their local communities.

    Today’s policy debates are not grounded in the evidence that underscores how successful refugee integration has been and how refugees differ from other immigrants. To that end, this report provides context on resettled refugees and the policy conversation, synthesizes evidence on integration outcomes, and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the data sources and methods on which researchers rely.

    This clarifies what we do and do not know. We highlight gaps in the research base that, if filled, would provide a fuller picture on both sides of the integration equation: refugees and receiving communities.

    Current policy debates focus on skills-based admissions, costs, and security...

    There is a major disconnect between the current policy debate and the reality of refugee outcomes in the US. After a tumultuous year of policy changes for the refugee resettlement program and as refugees are being framed as security, economic, and cultural threats, policymakers must consider the evidence base on the realities of refugees and their local communities.

    Today’s policy debates are not grounded in the evidence that underscores how successful refugee integration has been and how refugees differ from other immigrants. To that end, this report provides context on resettled refugees and the policy conversation, synthesizes evidence on integration outcomes, and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the data sources and methods on which researchers rely.

    This clarifies what we do and do not know. We highlight gaps in the research base that, if filled, would provide a fuller picture on both sides of the integration equation: refugees and receiving communities.

    Current policy debates focus on skills-based admissions, costs, and security

    Current immigration policy debates revolve around reducing immigration across the board, with a privileging of skills-based admissions, concern over security threats and screening procedures, and a focus on the costs rather than the contributions immigrants make to their communities.

    Refugees make up a small part of the immigrant population and are entering the US to escape violence and persecution, but federal policy changes over the past year have targeted them alongside other groups. Since the first travel ban in January 2017, policy changes have caused major shocks to the refugee resettlement system. Refugee admissions in fiscal year 2017 hit a historic low, and admissions in fiscal year 2018 are likely to be much lower.

    What does the research say about refugee integration outcomes?

    Resettled refugees have entered the US on humanitarian grounds. They have been admitted for safety and refuge from violence, torture, or discrimination, not to contribute to our workforce. And yet, refugees do contribute to the US workforce and society.

    Recent research shows that after a period of adjustment after arrival, refugees integrate on economic, linguistic, and civic measures. On average, they participate in the labor force at high rates, their earnings rise, and their use of public benefits declines. Their English language skills improve, and those arriving during their youth have strong educational attainment. Set on a fast track to obtain green cards and citizenship compared with other immigrants, most refugees become US citizens, and many own homes and businesses.

    There is not just one “refugee experience.” They are a diverse group, and outcomes vary. Many remain limited by low English proficiency and low educational attainment, which influences their economic outcomes.

    Looking beyond economics to health, well-being, and social connection

    Recent research on refugees, including the cost report mandated by executive order, has focused on refugees’ economic costs and contributions, but this balance-sheet mentality has shortcomings. Refugees contribute to local economies, but they contribute in other ways. They bring new perspectives and diversity but sometimes disrupt local communities and have a stressful effect on local infrastructure like local schools and hospitals. Changes for the receiving community can be more challenging to measure and quantify than measuring outcomes for refugees.

    To inform resettlement policymaking decisions, we need to look beyond employment and collect more information on refugees’ noneconomic outcomes. In addition to economic, linguistic, and civic factors, researchers and stakeholders agree that health, well-being, and social connection are critical from a policy perspective. 

    Gaps need to be filled to inform the policy conversation

    Any research on refugees is difficult given their vulnerable status, their small numbers, their geographic dispersion, and diversity in their language background and demographic characteristics. The data available to assess refugee integration are limited in some ways.

    Although existing evidence on key integration outcomes answers some questions, there are many gaps in our knowledge that merit study. Learning more about these issues will help our understanding of refugee integration in the US and inform decisionmaking. We must continue to push the evidence base to develop a stronger understanding of both sides of the integration equation—refugees and receiving communities. (Author abstract)

     

  • Individual Author: Elkin, Sam; Farrell, Mary; Koralek, Robin; Engle, Hannah
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    Since 1975, the United States has resettled more than three million refugees whose diversity of skills, education, and culture requires that public and private organizations assisting them be able to provide a wide range of services. Upon arrival in the United States, two federally funded cash assistance programs help low-income refugees on their path to self-sufficiency: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for those with dependent minor children and Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) for those who do not qualify for TANF. Both programs are funded and administered by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. States, however, have broad flexibility in implementing TANF and RCA programs and the related employment services, and as a result programs vary by state.

    While refugees make up a small proportion of the TANF caseload, they may require more intensive services reflecting their status and particular needs. Coordination with resettlement agencies and refugee-serving organizations more accustomed to working...

    Since 1975, the United States has resettled more than three million refugees whose diversity of skills, education, and culture requires that public and private organizations assisting them be able to provide a wide range of services. Upon arrival in the United States, two federally funded cash assistance programs help low-income refugees on their path to self-sufficiency: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for those with dependent minor children and Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) for those who do not qualify for TANF. Both programs are funded and administered by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. States, however, have broad flexibility in implementing TANF and RCA programs and the related employment services, and as a result programs vary by state.

    While refugees make up a small proportion of the TANF caseload, they may require more intensive services reflecting their status and particular needs. Coordination with resettlement agencies and refugee-serving organizations more accustomed to working with refugees may ensure appropriate services are provided. Research on how refugee-serving programs collaborate to provide assistance and help refugees obtain employment has been limited. Service providers seeking to help refugees achieve self-sufficiency in a short time-frame need promising strategies for better serving refugees. (Author introduction)

     

  • Individual Author: Modicamore, Dominic
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    Colorado is home to thousands of refugees from all over the world who fled violence and persecution to seek safety and sanctuary in the United States. As these individuals and families put down roots in Colorado, they spark a multitude of regional economic impacts through their spending and through the wages they earn working in industries across the economy. To better understand and quantify these economic implications, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) Refugee Services Program (CRSP) commissioned ICF to measure the economic impact of refugees in Colorado. The intent of this study is to understand the economic impact of the public support paid to refugees and their families as well as the economic impact of refugees’ employment earnings over time. This study is unique for four key reasons:

    • first, unlike previous studies, this analysis relied on actual data on individual refugees’ receipt of public services as well as their earnings;
    • second, this study included not only the impact of public spending on refugees, but also assessed the impact of...

    Colorado is home to thousands of refugees from all over the world who fled violence and persecution to seek safety and sanctuary in the United States. As these individuals and families put down roots in Colorado, they spark a multitude of regional economic impacts through their spending and through the wages they earn working in industries across the economy. To better understand and quantify these economic implications, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) Refugee Services Program (CRSP) commissioned ICF to measure the economic impact of refugees in Colorado. The intent of this study is to understand the economic impact of the public support paid to refugees and their families as well as the economic impact of refugees’ employment earnings over time. This study is unique for four key reasons:

    • first, unlike previous studies, this analysis relied on actual data on individual refugees’ receipt of public services as well as their earnings;
    • second, this study included not only the impact of public spending on refugees, but also assessed the impact of refugees’ earnings in the economy – a critical component of understanding the full scope of impact;
    • third, this analysis used a cohort approach in order to capture a static population of refugees across multiple years;
    • fourth, this analysis accounted for the spending of Colorado taxpayer dollars on refugee assistance by subtracting the impact that would have been generated if the taxpayer had retained that income; and
    • separate from the primary economic impact and fiscal analyses, this report also includes three case studies that provide additional insight into refugee resettlement in Colorado. (Author introduction)
  • Individual Author: Waters, Damon; Chester, Hilary; Gaffney, Angela; Hetling, Andrea
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2018

    This session discussed how TANF and employment services programs can serve special populations. Presenters shared strategies that state and local systems use to provide financial support and related employment services to newly arrived refugees, the feasibility and benefits of providing enhanced employment services to foreign trafficking victims, and a risk assessment tool for domestic violence survivors applying for services and waivers under the Family Violence Options. Damon Waters (Administration for Children and Families) moderated this session.

     

    This session discussed how TANF and employment services programs can serve special populations. Presenters shared strategies that state and local systems use to provide financial support and related employment services to newly arrived refugees, the feasibility and benefits of providing enhanced employment services to foreign trafficking victims, and a risk assessment tool for domestic violence survivors applying for services and waivers under the Family Violence Options. Damon Waters (Administration for Children and Families) moderated this session.

     

  • Individual Author: Boland, Bethany; Gaffney, Angela
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    States exercise broad flexibility to structure and implement federally funded refugee cash assistance programs and accompanying services to help move refugees toward employment and self-sufficiency. Each state (except Wyoming, which has no refugee program) has a State Refugee Coordinator (SRC) who is responsible for overseeing the design, implementation, and coordination of refugee services in each state.

    This brief summarizes findings from a 2016 survey of SRCs. It describes the structure of programs that deliver cash assistance and employment services to refugees, the challenges refugees experience during the resettlement process, and innovative strategies states have implemented to improve service provision and coordination among refugee service providers.

    The survey was conducted as part of the Understanding the Intersection between TANF and Refugee Cash Assistance Services study, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The study's main purpose is to learn how state and local...

    States exercise broad flexibility to structure and implement federally funded refugee cash assistance programs and accompanying services to help move refugees toward employment and self-sufficiency. Each state (except Wyoming, which has no refugee program) has a State Refugee Coordinator (SRC) who is responsible for overseeing the design, implementation, and coordination of refugee services in each state.

    This brief summarizes findings from a 2016 survey of SRCs. It describes the structure of programs that deliver cash assistance and employment services to refugees, the challenges refugees experience during the resettlement process, and innovative strategies states have implemented to improve service provision and coordination among refugee service providers.

    The survey was conducted as part of the Understanding the Intersection between TANF and Refugee Cash Assistance Services study, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The study's main purpose is to learn how state and local systems serve refugees through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) programs, how these programs interact, and how they might foster positive employment outcomes and refugee self-sufficiency. The survey findings were used to identify noteworthy program structures and practices practices to further explore as part of fieldwork conducted under this study. (author introduction)

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