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             What is Co-Sponsorship? 

Co-sponsorship is a model of resettlement where a community group partners with a local resettlement agency to provide specific services and financial support to a newly arrived refugee family. This type of volunteer commitment is incredibly important to the work of welcome. Co-sponsors bring an essential level of commitment, continuity, and care for the refugees they serve and significantly multiply and extend the services refugees receive. Co-sponsors are overseen by one of our local resettlement agencies who provide each co-sponsor team with in-depth training prior to working with a family and continued support throughout their service period.

Co-sponsorship Requirements 
Across the LIRS network specific requirements for co-sponsor programs vary by local resettlement site, but in general co-sponsors are expected to do the following: 

Co-sponsor teams can vary in size and there is no universal requirement for team sizes. In our network teams tend to range from 6-10 core members who work directly with clients.

Program lengths vary from 3-12 months across the LIRS network.

Co-sponsors are expected to raise a specific amount of money of which will be used to supplement essential needs of the family such as rent, healthcare, transportation, or groceries. LIRS local resettlement sites have set their own financial requirement for co-sponsor teams based on the cost of living in their area and needs of their clients.

Commitment forms are non-legally binding agreements between a co-sponsor team and a local resettlement agency. The commitment form outlines expectations of co-sponsors and duties they agree to perform.

The local resettlement agency will give co-sponsorship teams guidance on how much time they should expect to spend with the family. Co-sponsors can expect to be spending more time with the family in their first month after arrival as they learn to navigate their new community than later months.

It is a standard best practice across the refugee resettlement field that all volunteers who work directly with refugees receive a background check. This is a way of safeguarding the clients we serve. Before anyone can volunteer to co-sponsor a resettled family, the agency will require a background check through their organization.

Co-sponsorship teams must attend a co-sponsorship training put on by the local resettlement agency where they will learn about the expectations and guidelines of the local agency’s co-sponsorship program.

Local resettlement offices will provide co-sponsors with information about their program’s expectations, avenues of communication, onboarding process, and guidelines.

If you and your community is committed to serving refugees through co-sponsorship, register below!

          Services Co-sponsors Provide

Each one of the local refugee resettlement agencies in the LIRS network are required by our government partners to provide specific services called core services to each refugee they resettle. Co-sponsors help to provide certain core services in addition to other support services that aid in refugees’ integration into their new communities. Local offices determine which core and support services they want co-sponsors to provide and have them outlined in their commitment form that co-sponsors sign.  

Examples of Core Services Co-sponsors May Provide: 

Set up an apartment for an arriving refugee individual or family with the required furnishings and supplies listed in the home set up list.

Collect furnishings, kitchen and household items, hygiene, and cleaning items. Furnishing and supplies check lists will be provided.

Provide seasonal clothing and footwear for work, school, and everyday use for each member of the family, and diapers for infants and toddlers.

Purchase culturally appropriate groceries for the family. A culturally appropriate grocery guide will be provided.

Prepare a culturally appropriate meal, ready for the individual or family to enjoy immediately upon arrival at their new home. A culturally appropriate food list will be provided.

Pick up the individual or family from the airport and welcome them into their new home. An airport pick up guide will be provided.

Within one calendar day of the family’s arrival, visit their home and complete the “Next Calendar Day Home Visit Form” which will be provided to you by the resettlement agency.

In partnership with local agency staff, arrange for transportation of the refugee individual or family in situations where public transportation is not practical, particularly for job interviews and training.

Help adults enroll in English language classes within 10 working days of arrival. The resettlement agency will provide guidance on how to do this.

Register those eligible for selective service within 30 days of arrival.

Enroll all eligible children in school within 30 days.

Examples of Extra Support Services Co-Sponsors May Provide:

Use your creativity to help the refugee family learn more about their new community. This could look like taking the family to the local farmers market, a sporting event, a local museum, or have a picnic in the park.

Go to the grocery store with the refugee individual or family and show each of them how to navigate it.

Teach refugees how to navigate the U.S. health care system and assist them in accessing appropriate providers of continued therapy or preventive treatment.

Help the individual or family create a budget, explain the U.S. banking system, and more.

Focus on developing English skills with the individual or family.

Help the individual or family with employment preparation (resume preparation, mock interviews, long term employment goal setting).

Show the individual or family how to take the bus, explaining different bus routes, how to purchase a bus pass, and more.

Continue to help with transportation as needed.

Rooted in Faith 

Our faith calls on us to welcome the stranger. Co-sponsorship is a direct response to neighbors seeking concrete and transformative ways to welcome refugees and migrants through love and service. 

EMMAUS: Congregational Discernment is LIRS’ invitation for congregations to consider how they can respond to the biblical call to welcome the stranger. 

Through the three sessions of the Discernment Guide, faith communities will meet to pray, discuss, and discern how they can accompany refugees and migrants as they rebuild their lives.

Additional Resources

A Refugee Family's Journey

Call to Welcome: Co-Sponsorship Webinar

Still Have Questions About Co-Sponsorship?

Check out our Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs) below!

Each of our affiliate offices are following the recommended federal and state requirements for COVID safety. Our top priority is making sure our Afghans and our volunteers are safe and healthy. Additionally, our new neighbors are being vaccinated at military bases as they arrive. 

LIRS is working closely with our partners to make sure that all volunteers and potential co-sponsors are connected to their nearest resettlement site. To help us maintain this process, we ask that you fill out our co-sponsorship form LINK. 

Written agreements vary by local resettlement site, however, it generally outlines the expectations of what activities volunteers will be doing to support the family versus what the resettlement agency is responsible for and the time commitment expected.  

The money that co-sponsors raise is supplemental to the funds given by the U.S. Government. Finances are handled collaboratively between the co-sponsorship group, the local resettlement agency, and the family with the goal of meeting their most pressing needs. Often this does include rent, healthcare, transportation, and school supplies. 

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