In December 2005, Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) in collaboration with RefugeeWorks (Office of Refugee Resettlement technical assistance provider for refugee self-sufficiency and employment) began to examine child care access among refugee parents, guardians and care givers. We found that regardless of region, refugee resettlement workers identify child care as a significant issue impacting employment and ultimately self-sufficiency. We also found that in many regions there is little contact between refugee serving agencies and mainstream child care services. In response to these findings, BRYCS compiled this resource and curriculum to aid refugee resettlement workers in minimizing child care issues as an employment and self-sufficiency barrier.

This resource contains information, reference materials, and sample training modules for employment specialists and case managers. It is designed to help agencies increase their capacity to serve refugee clients and provide them with a spectrum of child care options. Information is also relevant to program directors to assess if adequate internal processes are operating to sufficiently address child care issues.


The goals of this resource and curriculum are to:

  • Provide an overview of the child care system and background on issues refugee populations face in securing care.
  • Clarify the relationship between stable child care arrangements and employment success.
  • Assist resettlement agencies and child care networks in building partnerships between key stakeholders, including Child Care Resource and Referral Networks (CCR&R), child care subsidy agencies, child care licensing agencies and refugee resettlement agencies.
  • Enable resettlement staff and key partners to better identify child care options and funding strategies for refugee clients.
  • Provide a template for agencies to train staff on child care issues, incorporating methods consistent with adult learning theory and a “train the trainer” model.


Key issues that refugees face in securing child care are:

  1. Refugees, especially newcomer groups, are in need of increased outreach so that they can make an informed decision in choosing a child care provider.
  2. There is a need to build upon the relationship between mainstream models of child care coordination and refugee communities.
  3. Refugee Resettlement staff are in need of improved communication and collaboration models to regularly access the mainstream provider’s resource and referral system.
  4. There is a desire to expand the infrastructure in meeting child care needs of refugee communities.
  5. Training programs designed specifically for refugees to become licensed child care providers and to improve informal child care, or kith and kin care, are desired by the community.


  1. Conduct aggressive outreach to educate refugee parents about their choices.
  2. Enhance collaboration between resettlement agencies and mainstream child care providers.
  3. Streamline the child care subsidy process.
  4. Increase community capacity to access close and flexible child care.
  5. Build capacity within refugee communities to offer quality child care.


Chapter One: Child Care Use among Refugees

Chapter Two: Understanding the Child Care System

Chapter Three: Child Care and Employment

Chapter Four: Feedback from the Field

Chapter Five: Recommendations

Chapter Six: Promising Practices for Building Refugee Community Capacity

Training Modules: Introduction

Acronyms and Abbreviations

Arranging safe, affordable and stable child care is of special concern to vulnerable populations and can be a barrier to long-term employment. Although specific research has not been done with refugee employees, research with individuals going from welfare to work has demonstrated that vulnerable populations who have assistance in arranging child care show higher rates of successful employment outcomes and longer term employment. Refugee populations are unique within this group of vulnerable populations in that they are faced with many choices and new options that are unfamiliar to them. Experienced parents from other countries may find that their usual means of child care are unavailable (such as extended family care), unsafe (allowing children to play outside unsupervised) or even illegal (leaving younger children in the care of older siblings) in the U.S. By contrast, common forms of child care in the U.S. may seem expensive, culturally strange and overly formal. Traditional social service systems that work with refugee populations typically do not interact with networks addressing child care issues, leaving a potential service gap. As a result, child care resources available to refugee clients may be under-utilized.

This resource and curriculum were developed to:

  1. Encourage linkages between child care and refugee resettlement networks and to provide promising practice examples of such relationships.
  2. Provide resources for refugee resettlement staff to inform clients about child care options and eligibility for child care subsidies.
  3. Provide training modules for resettlement agencies to train their staff on child care strategies that will assist refugee clients in locating the best child care solutions for their family.

This training toolkit complements the USCRI Journey of Hope curriculum which targets individual refugee families and helps them to choose child care options. This BRYCS curriculum and training modules targets staff members who explain those options to their clients and helps them gain a better understanding of the breadth and scope of resources available. Assisting refugee clients with the confusing process of negotiating the child care system can ultimately improve their successful integration into new employment in the United States and can give refugee parents confidence and peace of mind about their child care choices.

You can download the full toolkit here.

This publication, Enhancing Child Care for Refugee Self-Sufficiency: A Training Resource and Toolkit, has relied on the support and assistance of numerous agencies, individuals, and organizations. First, we would like to thank the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which has made this publication possible through its support of the Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services program.
A number of professionals generously provided valuable feedback and time in reviewing drafts of this publication. Special thanks are due to our partnering organization, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service; Pam Bloom, Acting Director for Organizational Capacity Building, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service; Susan Schmidt, M.S.W., Consultant; Lyn Morland, BRYCS’ Program Officer, USCCB; Jennifer Rose, Information and Outreach Coordinator, USCCB; and Cheryl Hamilton, National Coordinator and Senior Consultant, RefugeeWorks. Information Crossroads LLC provided formatting and technical support services.
Others who contributed their valuable time and expertise include: Charles Shipman, Arizona State Refugee Coordinator; Jessica Sager, Executive Director, All Our Kin; Yvonne Gonzalez Duncan, Project Manager, Good Beginnings Never End; The Association for Supportive Child Care (ASCC), Arizona; Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECSC)/The African Community Center of Denver, Denver, Colorado; Catholic Charities of Central New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Catholic Charities Immigration Services, Arkansas; Catholic Social Services, Anchorage, Alaska and Arizona; Ecumenical Refugee Services, Inc., Denver, Colorado; Heartland Refugee Resettlement, Lutheran Social Services, Lincoln, Nebraska; International Rescue Committee, Baltimore, Maryland and Arizona; Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the East Bay, California; Lutheran Family Services, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Lutheran Social Ministries of the Southwest, Arizona; PRIME-Ecumenical Commitment to Refugees, Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania; The International Center, Western Kentucky Refugee Mutual Assistance Association, Inc., Bowling Green, Kentucky; Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, Colchester, Vermont; Texas Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, San Antonio, Texas; Minnesota CCR&R Network, St. Paul, Minnesota; North Dakota Child Care Resource and Referral Network, Bismarck, North Dakota; New Jersey Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NJACCRRA), Hackensack, New Jersey; Child Care Inc., New York, New York; Child Development Support Corporation, New York, New York; Chinese-American Planning Council’s Asian Child Care Referral Program, New York, New York; Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, New York, New York; and Day Care Council, New York, New York.