Integration case management


While arrangements differ markedly between countries, assessment and early integration support are usually the responsibility of an identified lead entity such as an NGO who may, in some cases, receive government funding and enter into a formal agreement for services. Where community sponsorship is used as a tool for the reception and integration of resettled refugees (i.e., sponsored resettlement) this can differ, usually early integration support is provided either partially or entirely by sponsors. Survivors of violence or torture, women and girls at risk, children at risk, refugees with disabilities or health needs, LGBTIQ+ and older refugees, among others, may require specialized support. Because many different stakeholders may be involved in receiving and supporting refugees, it is advisable to structure referral, monitoring and governance arrangements to ensure case coordination. In all cases, the arrangements should include a mechanism for handing cases over to a responsible authority.

Case handover

Stakeholders in receiving countries are better prepared to make appropriate arrangements if they are familiar with the needs of the refugees they receive. It is important that information relevant to case management is shared with the receiving case managers or social workers so that they can ensure a continuum of appropriate support throughout the resettlement and integration period. Confidentiality should be protected; data sharing should be considered and regulated according to local law.

Depending on the specific model for supporting the integration of resettled refugees, referrals are often made to a case manager. The case manager conducts an initial assessment with the refugee(s) and develops a case management service plan (also termed a settlement or integration plan) that focuses on immediate to medium term goals. Case management provides the support to develop and implement strategies to build confidence to independently navigate life in a new country. This includes supporting newly arrived refugees to achieve different integration outcomes. An individual case-management approach is global best practice. Regular monitoring should be carried out to evaluate progress and identify the services required to support integration.

As part of integration case management, individualized assessments and early integration support are critical components of a refugee integration program for a number of reasons:

  • Resettled refugees have particularly intensive needs in the early integration period.
  • Existing services available to citizens may have neither the expertise nor the resources to address the needs of resettled refugees following arrival (e.g. interpreting resources, cultural competence, trauma informed approach, etc).
  • In countries with a relatively large refugee intake and complex social service systems, there may be logistical difficulties in ensuring that resettled refugees are identified by service providers and that service delivery is offered in a coordinated fashion.
  • Information obtained during the assessment can facilitate social connections.

International Rescue Committee - Resettlement and Integration Technical Assistance (RITA)

IRC RITA is a training and resource hub for resettlement and integration practitioners in communities around the world. It provides extensive resources for case management. See here for more information.

IRC applies a strengths-based approach for case management. The strength-based approach emphasizes the capabilities and strengths of the individual to improve self-awareness and develop confidence. Strength–based practices identify strengths and resources that exist within an individual, family, or group and involve those strengths in planning and service provision. For more information, click here.

Case management models

In the Nordic countries, where integration support is provided mainly at the municipal level, individualized case management service plans are developed and implemented by a municipal officer in partnership with the resettled refugee. It is important to engage resettled refugees in developing and implementing integration plans.

In the USA, resettled refugees are assigned to an NGO prior to arrival. The NGOs (who enter into an agreement with the government and are partially funded by the government) are responsible for developing and coordinating a case management service plan (including coordinating housing and social support) and an economic self-sufficiency plan (identifying goals for economic self-sufficiency and the supports required to reach them).

On arrival in Australia all resettled refugees are referred to settlement agencies funded by the Australian government. These organisations are responsible for conducting an assessment and supporting refugees to access basic integration resources.