7 Ways to Prepare for the Surge in Refugee Arrivals

avalancheClose to 70,000 refugees are projected to be resettled this fiscal year. Arrivals are estimated at 6,000 in July, 7,500 in August and 10,300 in September.

Wait. What? That’s more than 22,000 arrivals in three months. All of those arrivals won’t be employment clients, but still. That’s a heavy lift for all of us.

What are your concerns and how are you preparing? How can Higher help?

Here are seven of the ideas we’ve heard. Share your strategies and make your requests for additional assistance from Higher at information@higheradvantage.org.

 1. Recruit and train a cadre of volunteers to assist with 24 hour home visits. This is a requirement and an important first step to identifying and eliminating barriers to employment. While this isn’t strictly a part of our work as employment professionals, a stable foundation is important for work readiness and job retention.

2. Alert key partners about a potential high volume of client referrals. We aren’t the only ones who will struggle to serve a significant increase in refugees. Don’t let your community partners be surprised. They might offer possible solutions and additional assistance.

3. Check in with your own team. With this many arrivals, close coordination between case managers and employment specialists is even more important to identify potential barriers and priority cases earlier than usual. Strenghten mechanisms for working together now. With this many arrivals, doing this will help prevent clients from “falling through the cracks”.

4. Begin identifying employers and possible job opportunities that will be available when you need them. It’s likely that you’ll have heavy employment case-loads through the end of this year and into next. Seasonal hiring for the holidays starts now. For the hospitality industry, layoffs or unpaid leave is more common than hiring from Thanksgiving until spring. Long hard winters often mean less consumer spending, more staying at home by the fire and less employment opportunities. Our clients can’t wait until spring to find jobs.

5. See this as an opportunity to add strong class-based job readiness activities. Smaller or newer sites don’t always have enough clients at one time to justify class-based orientations or job readiness preparations. It’s challenging to innovate in the midst of serving so many new arrivals. The potential short and long term payoffs could offset the effort required.

6. Explore holiday giving events as a way to bring in more resources and raise community awareness. Many resettlement agencies already participate in angel trees, gift and food donation drives and other well-established ways to channel the spirit of the holidays. Now is the time to consider ways to expand how refugees benefit from those opportunities.

7.  Take care of yourself.  As numbers rise, so will stress levels.  Try to avoid going into this surge already stressed and burned out. On-going self care is important.  You can’t help your clients if you aren’t rested, centered and performing at full capacity.  This should have been the first point on the list.  Make it first in the strategies you put into place!

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Free Resource: Online Paycheck Calculator

freeClick here to access a simple online tool from QuickBooks that you can use to make your life easier in all kinds of ways.  Use it to quickly determine net (or take-home) pay after taxes and other withholdings.

R&P, Matching Grant and other refugee cash support programs require a number of assessment, planning and client self-sufficiency documents that are important and not always easy to complete.

This tool can deliver net pay information quickly so you have more time to help clients understand their budgets.

(Since we had some problems with our blog feed last week, we’re reposting this since most of you missed it during our technical difficulties.  Apologies)



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Another Chance to Win an iPad Air

contest collageHigher’s Online Learning Institute Spring Contest

Following the success of our last contest, we decided to start spring off with another chance to win an iPad Air.

From April 20 – May 9, all Employment Service providers enrolled in our Online Learning Institute will have several chances to win, starting with completing our new Intro to eLearning course. 

  1. Click here to sign up for your free username and password if you don’t already have yours. 
  2. Forward this post to your colleagues so they have a chance to win, too.
  3. View all the contest rules here and stay tuned for a contest launch reminder on April 20. 

Please contact us with any questions at information@higheradvantage.org.  Good luck! 



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Free College Access and Graduation Toolkit

graduationHigher education is a priority dream for many of our clients.  Figuring out when and where to go – and how to pay for it –  is complicated.

A recently published Graduate! Community Guide to College Access and Completion Toolkit offers a solid compilation of resources.  For me, the most useful section offers a comprehensive overview FAFSA, scholarships and different types of financial aid.

Click here to download this free resource offered by the U.S. Department of Education Center for faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

What are other useful resources you’ve found to help clients make decisions and prepare for higher education?  Share them by commenting on this post or sending them to information@higheradvantage.org.


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Announcing the New Higher Website

Here are three ways Higher’s redesigned website will make your life easier. We’re excited about the improvements and hope you will be, too.Excited-Woman-w_computer1

    1. Easier Access to Higher’s Online Learning Institute

      Log on, sign up or learn more with one easy click from one of our three new home page banners.  No more digging through search history or old emails.

    2. Search Function Delivers Everything You Need Now

      Type what you’re looking for in the search box on every page of our site and get ideas and answers in real time.  Drawn from our blog archive and curated collection of downloadable resources.

    3. Upcoming Events Feature on the Home Page

      Learn about upcoming webinars, trainings, and events across the nation.  There’s a little something for everyone.

Check it out at Higher’s website and let us know what you think.  Contact Sarah Vail with questions, requests, or suggestions.

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Free OSC Spring Webinar Schedule

OSCYou’re missing out if you don’t already know about the great customer service, information and resources offered by OSC.

Their official name is the Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.  Just like their OSC nickname, all of their services are user friendly and backed by serious credentials, expertise and resources.

Advocating for clients rights to work and making it easier for employers to hire them is something we do on a regular basis.  OSC is THE go to resource we all need to know about.

Click here to see a new schedule of free OSC webinars and check out Higher webinar archives and  a previous blog post to dig deeper.


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Tech Solutions for Language Barriers?


An example of the new photo translation feature in Russian. Photo Credit: AFP Glenn Chapman

Google Translate has been around for awhile. It offers voice to text translation in and many other useful features.  You can download the app or use the free online version for text translation.

The latest version just added photo translation.  Take a picture of a sign in a few languages including Spanish, Russian and French and the app translates.  Click here and here to read more about the original and most recent updates.

One of my favorite employer partners strongly recommends iBurmese.  Click here to see a simple youtube tutorial.

If anyone can share how (or if) these tech solutions have helped, let us know at information@higheradvantage.org.


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A Fresh Take on a Classic Job Development Resource

prezi1Whether you’re new to this work or an old hand, it’s worth reviewing Job Development Essentials: A Guide for Job Developers and a companion workbook and facilitators guide.

Think of a colleague with strong job development skills and it’s likely they have a dog-eared printout within easy reach.

No time right now?  Sound a little old school for you?

Thanks to Higher’s newest Peer Advisor, Ruslan Maksutov, MG Program Officer with USCRI, you can view the 10 Tenets of Job Development in a quick Prezi slide show.  Click here.

NOTE:  Thanks to Matt Gruel, Employment Coordinator with World Relief Tri Cities in Richland, WA for pointing out that the Prezi works differently in Firefox and Chrome.  If you’re having trouble, try different browsers as a possible fix.   


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Let’s Meet! When and Where?

texmex beverage

Refugee employment and margaritas go so well together! Photo credit: another native Texan

The chance to exchange stories with each other in real time is rare and valuable.  We all crave peer connection beyond email, phone calls, social media and virtual learning opportunities.

Higher will be at the following events/cities and we’d love to meet you there.

February 11-13   State Refugee Services Consultation in Jacksonville, FL

March 4-5           FMIP Refugee Livelihoods Conference in Dallas, TX

May 4-6               NAWDP Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV

Get in touch in advance to propose a gathering in your favorite venue and be sure to find us during these events.

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What’s Going to Happen with Cubans?


All of this will make it more possible to visit Cuba. Get your passports ready! Photo credit: Anonymous traveler

Suddenly in December, after more than 50 years, relations were normalized between the U.S. and Cuba.  Hopefully, that will bring positive changes to life in Cuba.

What could it eventually mean for Cuban border crosser (payrolee) status and the Cuban Haitian Program that funds much of our support services for this population?.

Click here to read an excellent article from the Migration Policy Institute that outlines what these policy changes mean now, what they might mean later and what a change in immigration policy for Cuban border crossers would require from the U.S. Congress.

Last fall saw increased numbers of Cuban border crossers attempting a dangerous sea crossing and the highest numbers of arrivals in more than five years.   Click here to read more from the New York Times.





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