2.4 Settlement Planning


Users of this online learning resource are responsible for connecting with government and local organizations to ensure access to relevant information on refugee sponsorship in their community.






Most settlement plans include a budget so, as a group, you will need to create a feasible budget to support the refugee newcomers during the sponsorship period.  While you might draft this budget in advance of the newcomer’s arrival, it is important to communicate and work alongside them once they have arrived in your community, as part of the journey towards self sufficiency.

Typical items included in budgets:

  • Rent: Consider if the rent is at a level the refugee newcomers will be able to afford after sponsorship ends. If it is too high and they are not financially self-sufficient at the end of the sponsorship period, then they may be required to move, potentially disrupting their lives and the ties they have built in their current community.
  • Food: Be sure to include costs associated with initial stocking of the kitchen, as well as ongoing monthly food costs.
  • Transportation: This may include bus passes, taxis, cost of fuel, driving lessons, licence renewal,  and/or cars.
  • Clothes: This may include costs associated with winter (coats, boots, hats, mittens, etc.), basic items (jeans, shirts, undergarments, sweaters, socks, shoes, etc.), summer wear (shorts, t-shirts, bathing suits, etc.), as well as infant, professional or work-related items.
  • Discretionary spending:  This may include costs for pocket money, recreation, birthday presents, etc.
  • Health:  This may include a plan for costs not covered by medical insurance, including any special medical needs.
  • Education: This may include costs associated with school trips, books, and daycare to allow parents to study the local language and to look for employment.
  • Furniture:  This may include costs associated with window coverings, kitchen furnishings, bedroom, bathroom, living room, dining room and other household items. Donated items may offset these costs.
  • Reserve/Emergency Funds:  This may include costs for medical or dental emergencies, and other unforeseen emergency expenses.
  • Household Supplies: Laundry and cleaning supplies, for example.
  • Communication: Cell phones, phone plans, calling cards, etc.

Here is a sample budget used by various organizations and sponsorship groups in Canada. Keep in mind that the financial amounts are specific to each case and within sponsorship.

Source: The Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association, “Settlement Budget Template”

Country-Specific Information: Budgets will vary in different country contexts due to variations in government funding, including financial subsidies. It is recommended that you research welfare guidelines, tax credits, childcare benefits and other financial entitlements and programs in your country. There may be situations in which there are limits on how fundraised money can be used. Depending on the country context, sponsorship groups may need to report how much money has been spent and what those expenditures were used towards. There may be consequences for sponsor groups that do not comply with reporting requirements.

Remember that the amounts in the budget may need to change over time if, for example, the refugee newcomers gain employment, have unanticipated expenses or if there are any other changes in the cost of living.



Drafting a Settlement Plan



What is a Settlement Plan?

The settlement plan is an essential document in keeping your sponsorship group organized. It will provide details on what support you will be able to provide to the resettled newcomers and will address the who, how, when and where of the support that you can offer. In Canada, for example, prospective sponsors must submit a plan that includes:

  • Names and contact information for your group;
  • A breakdown of tasks and people associated with those responsibilities;
  • Information about in-kind donations and how much money each group member is committing to providing during the sponsorship period; and
  • Documentation that proves the existence of these funds.

Consistency of support provided to resettled newcomers is crucial, not only for the newcomers themselves to have clarity around the support planned, but also for the smooth running of your group. Involving your group members in preparing the settlement plan will go a long way towards achieving this consistency.

Country-Specific Requirements

Your country or region may or may not require a settlement plan. Even if it is not required, it is useful to craft a plan so all group members clearly know their role, can properly prepare, and understand how to address challenges as they arise. You can refer to examples in the resources section and share with group members:

Adjusting During the Sponsorship Period

Keep in mind that the settlement plan should be used as a guide, and that changes may need to be made to the plan to adapt to the refugee newcomer’s changing circumstances. For example:

  • Review the Budget – Collaborate with the refugee newcomers to discuss and decide on a budget that meets their needs.  It is recommended that your group prepare a budget before the refugees’ arrival, and meet with them on a regular basis after arrival (more frequently in the beginning) to ensure that a collective understanding of possible approaches to budgeting is developed. For example, this includes allocating money according to the needs and priorities of the refugee newcomers within the available resources. Ultimately, the decision on what and where to spend the funds rests with them and the sponsorship group will need to work towards greater ownership of this budget by the refugee newcomers.
  • Education and employment opportunities – As we will discuss in the specific settlement topics, learning the local language and gaining educational credentials should be highly prioritized. However, once the refugee newcomers become settled in school, they may also start looking for employment opportunities.
  • Family Issues – Whenever there is a big change in a family’s life, there is stress on the family system. One example may be spousal separation, which may impact how your group provides financial and settlement support.
  • Preparing for the end of the sponsorship – This will be discussed in greater detail in the final module, ‘End of Sponsorship’.

Gathering Information

Research is often required to be able to compile a comprehensive settlement plan. Your group can do much of this yourselves, looking into finances, housing, transport, education options and other services that are already available in the community.

If possible, pre-arrival communication with sponsored refugees is highly recommended to  inform your settlement planning. Pre-arrival communication provides an opportunity for your group and the sponsored refugees to learn more about each other, for your group to explain your roles and responsibilities, to learn more about the sponsored refugees’ expectations and answer their questions, and to gather useful information that will tailor your group’s approach to certain tasks (housing, clothing, furnishings, etc.), among other benefits.

For security and privacy reasons, not all countries allow prospective sponsors to communicate with refugees prior to their arrival.

Think about the best way to communicate with the refugees considering their access to technology, language skills, security, and safety. Common methods include instant messages, video calls, e-mail, social media platform messages.



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