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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  1. Great article!!! They won’t be in employment crisis, yet… 🙂 as a JD, our plates will be extremely full in about 30-60 days with new clients needing to go to work. I have started to prepare my employers for an influx of arrivals and to get ready to hire more people!! The feedback I’ve received is, “bring them!!” :-). This will be good, stay positive my friends!

  2. Leah S. Bergen says:

    Good ideas!

  3. I suggest rethinking the reliance on one on one as the only service delivery model. Many staff repeat themselves many times in a day and other staff are doing the same thing. Try meeting with 3 to 5 people at a time to discuss the same topic. If you have room for 6 people, but only have 4 from your caseload send an email to your coworkers to see if they can fill the other two slots. Mini-groups are the ideal caseload management technique. They practically eliminate the time wasted waiting for one person who might not show up. They all for peer to peer cross training and role modeling which you can’t do in one on one. They are a great place to practice soft skills. There will always be the need for one on one but mini groups can be another program delivery option.

    • Lorel Donaghey says:

      Dear Larry, Thanks so much for reading and adding your wisdom. (I attended one of your sessions at NAWDP’s Vegas conference). Lorel

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