Co-Sponsor a Refugee Family
As co-sponsors, you will play a vital role in helping your refugee family integrate into our community. However you are not case workers, you are not a resettlement agency and it is important that we all understand where your responsibilities end and ours begin.
We call this "co-sponsorship" because it is a partnership between you and Canopy NWA with very clear roles and expectations on how to best serve the refugee family.
Co-Sponsorship Events & Training
Overview of Co-Sponsorship Roles & Responsibilities
Phase 1: Preparing for Arrival
Refugee Family Sponsor Responsibility Overview
Form a team by asking for volunteers who have a heart for outreach. You should have eight people at a minimum, but you probably don’t want more than twelve. Designate a team leader who will be our point of contact to your team.
This team will be tasked with the following areas of preparation:
Inform your wider organization or congregation of the work of the co-sponsorship team and educate them regarding resettlement and co-sponsoring. Canopy NWA will provide you with informational materials (Power Points, handouts, posters, etc.) to help with this. We can also coordinate with your team to organize an informational session with your organization about co-sponsorship.
Advertise the need for household furniture, beds and household items. Arrange for collection and storage (download Canopy NWA Co-Sponsorship Handbook). When the refugee family arrival date is received, deliver the furniture and set up the apartment. Canopy NWA will pay the rent for the apartment with their resettlement money
Take our grocery list (page 13) and purchase items for the refugees. Staples may be purchased ahead of time; fresh food the day of the arrival. Deliver all food to apartment. This is food for the first few days only. You will also need to prepare a meal for the day of arrival. It can be placed in the refrigerator to be heated when they arrive.
Airport and orientation
Arrange for up to four team members to go to the airport with Canopy NWA staff. Assist in taking the refugees to their apartment and walking them through an initial orientation.
As co-sponsors, we ask that you contribute $1,100 in welcome funds to help us provide for the refugees.
Additionally, your team will be responsible for furnishing the apartment, buying an initial supply of groceries and supplying a meal upon arrival (more details in the Co-Sponsorship Handbook).
As a team, determine what your budget will be and begin fundraising to hit that target.
We have partnered with Pure Charity to provide great fundraising resources, coaches, and convenient online fundraising tools.
Canopy NWA's Responsibility Overview
Co-sponsorship training and orientation
Canopy will provide an initial training for all co-sponsorship teams once every quarter. At least 8 team members must complete the training before the team becomes eligible to co-sponsor a family. Once the team completes the training and is matched with a family, Canopy will provide them with cultural orientation specific to their family.
Canopy will secure suitable housing for the refugee family in time for the co-sponsoring team to furnish it and stock it. Canopy will conduct the required initial housing safety checklist.
Canopy will provide transportation for the refugees from the airport to their homes. Depending on the size of the refugee family, Canopy may or may not be able to provide transportation for the co-sponsoring team members.
Canopy estimates that it will cost $8,000 to help a refugee family of four build a new life here in Northwest Arkansas over the course of three months.
With the exception of $1,100 that we ask Co-Sponsoring teams to raise, Canopy will secure the remaining funding needed to provide for the refugee family for the duration of the R&P period.
Phase 2: Post-Arrival
Refugee Family Sponsor Responsibility Overview
We ask that your team commit to spending at least 20 hours a month with your refugee family for at least 4-6 months after they arrive. This will look very different depending on the family, but here is a rough idea of what you should expect.
Within 24 hours, up to three team members should join Canopy in visiting the refugees in their home. We will introduce the co-sponsorship team to the refugees as friends from our community who are here to welcome them and help them navigate their new home. We will make it clear that they can come to you with questions about: language, getting around town, making sense of the culture, making friends, shopping and running errands, non-emergency medical situations, using the phone, post office, bus system, etc. They should come to us with questions about: their legal status in the US, their access to benefits, moving, any emergencies, trouble with the law, money and/or food, etc.
The majority of the core services outlined in the Cooperative Agreement will be overseen by Canopy, however the co-sponsorship team may be called upon to help with transportation or childcare during appointments.
Within 30 days, Canopy will work with the refugee to complete a customized service plan for their resettlement. The refugees will determine their goals for their new life here. We ask that 1 team member be present for this as we will be determining the ways that your team will help the refugee achieve these goals. The service plan will help shape the rest of your co-sponsorship.
Canopy will hold several cultural orientation sessions for the refugees within their first 90 days after arrival. We ask that members from your co-sponsorship team be present at these sessions if possible.
Regular Assistance to the Refugees
We ask that you plan to commit to helping refugees in the following areas, depending on their needs and the goals laid out in their service plan:
Designate people from your team to practice English regularly with the refugees. Canopy NWA will enroll them in ESL classes, but nothing beats practice through regular conversation with native speakers. Canopy NWA can provide you with informal conversation lesson plans to help you teach the refugees some basic communication skills such as how to order at a restaurant, how to interact with a police officer or how to call a customer service hotline.
Recruit someone who can teach the refugees about the US currency and banking system and assist them with budgeting.
Have the refugees over for a meal or take them to a community event, like a baseball game. Invite the refugees to social activities your church or neighborhood is hosting. Plan a welcome reception for the refugees. Our goal would be to see the refugees interacting with members of your team at least once a week for the entirety of your sponsorship—and hopefully afterwards too.
Designate volunteers who will be available to take the refugees to occasional appointments or take them shopping in their first month. You can help Canopy NWA teach them to ride the bus and may find it useful to practice with them a few times.
Designate volunteers to assist refugee children and adults who are enrolled in classes with their assignments. You may find that the area where they need the most help is in adjusting to a new method of learning and teaching—rather than the content itself.
Canopy NWA Responsibility Overview
Canopy will visit the family in their home within 24 hours and will conduct a basic housing and safety orientation with the help of up to 3 members of the co-sponsorship team. Canopy will also ensure the family has adequate food, clothing and supplies.
Provision of Core Services
Canopy will ensure the provision of core services according to the timeline outlined in the Cooperative Agreement, as well as the documentation of all such services in case files and case notes.
Within 30 days, Canopy will assemble and begin implementing a personalized service plan for every refugee and make all necessary referrals to ensure the refugees are on track to meet their goals. Canopy will also monitor the refugees’ progress throughout the R&P period and make adjustments as necessary.
Canopy will assemble all necessary curriculum and activity materials for each orientation session and will do all necessary lesson planning (unless Canopy invites a member of the community to conduct the session instead). Canopy will prepare the co-sponsors for any role they may have to play in the session and ensure they have everything they need.
Regular Assistance to Refugees
Throughout the R&P period, Canopy will be responsible for any activities pertaining to: the refugees’ legal status in the US, their employment, they and/or their children’s education, their finances and taxes, medical emergencies, moving, bringing over family members, etc. You are not responsible for any of these areas. You also may not have all the accurate information, so please, if a question comes up about any of these things, just defer to us. We do not want to give the refugees any conflicting information.