Session: From Strangers to Neighbors: Strategies Towards Building Inclusive Refugee-Immigrant Communities (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

264 From Strangers to Neighbors: Strategies Towards Building Inclusive Refugee-Immigrant Communities

Friday, January 22, 2021: 5:00 PM-6:00 PM
Cluster: Immigrants and Refugees
Njeri Kagotho, PhD, Ohio State University, Arati Maleku, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, Beth Halaas, EdD, Eastern Washington University, Sudarshan Pyakurel, BA, Bhutanese Community of Central Ohio and Bipasha Biswas, PhD, Eastern Washington University
Introduction: Human migration has played a crucial role in transforming the United States into an ethno-culturally diverse and economically prosperous nation. Literature on foreign-born groups has predominantly focused on acculturation-based and individual-level factors. However, environmental factors at the community, and societal levels that impact immigrant inclusion are often ignored in these discussions.

This round-table will discuss promising strategies, co-identified with foreign-born communities based on community-engaged research projects in three sub-urban areas in the U.S. This discussion will provide opportunities for stakeholder engagement around emerging models for building inclusive spaces for immigrant and refugee populations. The discussants will engage participants around three promising strategies from Washington, Louisiana, and Ohio, respectively: (1) a Refugee Community Partnership Model (RCPM), (2) a Healing Centered Financial Empowerment Approach, and (3) an Equity-Based Collective Impact (CI) Approach.

Refugee Community Partnership Model: Refugees are resettled after careful and mandatory vetting processes. However, once accepted for admission to the US, refugees have little control on the resettlement process including where they are finally settled. Furthermore, resettlement communities may have differing levels of readiness to welcome new refugees. The RCPM addresses the challenges of responding effectively to refugee needs faced by micropolitan (smaller urban) areas. This model proposes interventions that are applicable to resettlement communities that do not enjoy the ethnic and cultural diversity often associated with metropolitan areas.

A Healing Centered Approach: Refugee populations face unique challenges in financial service utilization. Given the increasing mental health risks associated with financial stress, this Healing Centered Approach builds a culturally responsive financial empowerment intervention aimed at building financial capacity that can create spaces of healing among African refugees in Louisiana. A healing centered approach engages African refugees as cultural ambassadors to identify community assets and cultural resources that can serve as protective factors to: (1) ease their transition into a new space, (2) promote an understanding of the U.S. financial landscape and build confidence to engage the systems in place, and (3) reverse long-term financial stress and supplant it with a sense of confidence and self-efficacy and build community resilience among the local African community in Baton Rouge.

Equity-Based Collective Impact Approach (CI): Human service organizations overwhelmingly agree on the problems facing the foreign-born communities they serve. However, weak service coordination and the lack of consensus on the solutions have continued to plague this sector. Furthermore, even when some level of collaborations have occurred, it has not necessarily translated into pragmatic actions due to exclusionary practices and system inequities. While discussants argue the need for a CI approach for the achievement of large-scale progress against urgent and complex problems through multisectoral collaboration, they highlight the need to intentionally build capacity of smaller community-based organizations, who are providing culturally tailored services, but are struggling to survive due to challenges with capacity.

Conclusion and Implications: This round-table presents novel pragmatic approaches that: (1) show promise to shift capacity and conditions at individual, neighborhood, organizational, and community levels, and (2) can be replicated across many immigrant and refugee sub-populations in culturally responsive ways.

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