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)