Refugee Resettlement and Peacebuilding: Exploring the Roles of Human and Social Capital of Caseworkers in Fulfilling Grassroots Refugee Needs
Date of Submission
Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)
Dr. Sherrill Hayes
Dr. William Baker
Dr. Brian Polkinghorn
Refugee resettlement provides reintegration opportunities for refugees and paves a path for sustainable peacebuilding through refugee empowerment. Despite these benefits, the often inadequate outcomes of resettlement present challenges for both the refugees and their service providers. Refugee caseworkers must meet their clients’ needs and provide certain services to their clients within a limited time period. This makes helping refugees gain economic self-sufficiency a daunting task. Often, failure to achieve resettlement goals is attributed to the refugees for not possessing the desired skills or networks (human and social capital). This research explores how caseworkers’ characteristics such as education, experience, and specialized training affect refugee economic self-sufficiency outcomes. The researcher uses U.S. resettlement policy data, focus group discussions with both refugees and their providers, refugee case file analyses, and a case study of refugee specialization training at a post-resettlement refugee services agency to analyze the effects of caseworkers’ characteristics on refugee economic self-sufficiency. The results support the claim that caseworkers’ characteristics play a vital role in helping the refugees attain economic self-sufficiency. This study identifies key challenges in refugee resettlement case management and recommends development of agency capital (i.e. human and social capital of caseworkers), which would help increase refugees’ human and social capital and ultimately improve both case management and resettlement outcomes. This study also recommends that resettlement entities adopt a community-specific service model to improve refugee economic self-sufficiency outcomes for the different refugee groups being resettled in the United States.