By 2019, the United States plans to resettle approximately 50,000 Congolese refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. At least 20% of incoming refugees are expected to be resettled under the “women-at-risk” designation, widely operationalized in practice as refugees who are single women and single mothers.

The Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work has partnered with the University of Texas and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to commission research on serving this vulnerable population. The study aims to understand the concerns, challenges, risks, and strengths of adult Congolese refugee women resettled in the U.S. under the refugee-women-at-risk category to help policy makers, service providers, and other stakeholders prepare for future arrivals. Using qualitative methods, researchers will conduct semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 57 key informants (28 Congolese women and 29 service providers) in Lexington, Kentucky; San Antonio, Texas; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

This research will serve to inform programs and policies that impact refugees and the agencies that provide services to assist refugees in adapting to life in the U.S. by bringing attention to the women-at-risk designation and the vulnerabilities women face in their integration process. The findings from this study will add to the body of empirical research with vulnerable immigrant populations. See report here.