Domestic CO Delivery

How is U.S. CO provided?

While the same basic CO topics are covered in most communities, how CO is provided varies greatly from one community to the next. In a 2004 survey of 36 resettlement agencies, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) found three basic models of CO delivery in the United States.

The R&P Model

With this model, the case manager provides orientation to the individual refugee or refugee family, although other staff and volunteers often help out as well. Usually there is an initial orientation session that lasts between 45 minutes and 2 hours, followed by other shorter sessions, often in the refugee's home, on an as-needed basis. Orientation is provided through lectures, informal question, and demonstrations. The CAL guide Welcome to the United States is generally provided to the refugees as background reading.

The R&P-Plus Model

This model also provides CO during an initial intake session but later supplements this with regularly scheduled and longer orientation sessions. In addition to the Welcome to the United States guide, agencies often provide some of their own CO materials.

The Workshop Model

Here CO is conducted by experienced CO trainers in a classroom format. Agencies using this model often develop their own curricula and CO materials and are more likely to use experiential learning activities, such as role plays and games, to explore attitudes and values. CO is carefully and formally integrated into refugee services as a whole.

Regardless of which model they follow, all agencies strive to provide CO that is linguistically and culturally appropriate. They do this by providing CO in a language the refugees can understand and by using staff and volunteers who know the refugees' cultures.

What challenges are involved in providing CO in the United States?

Perhaps the single biggest challenge that U.S. CO programs face is the lack of specific funding for CO. Unlike overseas CO, CO in the United States is not specifically funded, but is part of a package of federally funded services. This lack of designated funds has led to a more informal, less standardized form of CO than what is provided overseas.

In addition to this challenge, CO providers in the United States face some of the same challenges that their overseas counterparts face. One is the multiple demands on refugees' time and attention. Another is refugees' unrealistic expectations about resettlement.