Promoting Refugee Integration in Challenging Times: The Potential of Two-Generation Strategies

Mark Greenberg, Julia Gelatt, Jessica Bolter, Essey Workie & Isabelle Charo
Date of Publication: 
December, 2018
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

In the period from 2016 to 2018, refugee resettlement agencies in the United States faced numerous obstacles. In 2018, the Trump administration drastically reduced the yearly cap on refugee arrivals to 45,000, and only admitted 23,000 of these individuals seeking safety from violence and persecution. As a result, funding for refugee resettlement agencies has been reduced. Promoting Refugee Integration in Challenging Times: The Potential of Two-Generation Strategies recommends that agencies use this historically low point in refugee arrivals to reflect on the best practices available to integrate refugees into their communities, so as to achieve long-term stability and success. Traditionally, refugee resettlement providers have focused primarily on helping adults find employment as fast as possible. However, MPI started a project to research how “two-generation” models may improve outcomes for refugee families. “Two-generation” or “whole family” models assume that when resettlement agencies seek to meet the needs of refugee children as well as adults, the entire family benefits. Through interviews with volunteers and state coordinators and visits to resettlement agencies, MPI found that many agencies were already employing two-generation strategies in three important ways: assisting refugee children, helping adults qualify for more family-sustaining employment, and meeting the broader needs of refugee families. For example, nonprofits in Michigan started Early Head Start classrooms that seek both to employ refugees and to educate refugee children. Utah’s refugee resettlement agency hosts short, intensive trainings for refugees to earn professional certificates in web development, medical manufacturing and other in-demand careers. Agencies in Colorado have been connecting senior refugees with mental health resources and community sponsors. In this climate of uncertainty, MPI recommends that community groups, nonprofits and refugee resettlement agencies work together to find innovative solutions to improve the lives of as many refugees as possible, and that the national Office of Refugee Resettlement revise outcome measures beyond short-term indicators focused on refugee adults only. (Deb D'Anastasio for The Immigrant Learning Center's Public Education Institute)

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Greenberg, M., Gelatt, J., Bolter, J., Workie, E., & Charo, I. (2018). Promoting Refugee Integration in Challenging Times: The Potential of Two-Generation Strategies. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from