Expanding Our Community: Independent and Interdependent Factors Impacting Refugee Successful Community Resettlement


  • DeBrenna LaFa Agbényiga Michigan State University
  • Salamatu Barrie Michigan State University
  • Valentina Djelaj Wayne State University
  • Stepanie J. Nawyn Michigan State University




Refugee resettlement, refugee families, service provision, community, and socialization


Evidence suggests that despite the aid from resettlement agencies, many refugees find the resettlement process extraordinarily stressful and have reported significant negative mental and physical health outcomes. The literature on refugee resettlement often focuses on the challenges that these individuals encounter in their new environment. However, less research has focused on community barriers and lack of support issues that can prevent refugees from resettling in the U.S. Using qualitative data collected from Burmese and Burundian refugee groups, this article examines the impact of social structures on the resettlement process. Results indicate that gaps in service delivery such as employment and housing are affected by support from the resettlement agencies and the refugees’ social support network. Results of this study contribute to the knowledge based on how best to assist refugee families.

Author Biographies

DeBrenna LaFa Agbényiga, Michigan State University

School of Social Work Assistant Professor Social Science Dean's Office Assistant Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Academic Affairs

Salamatu Barrie, Michigan State University

Graduate Student Ecological-Community Psychology

Valentina Djelaj, Wayne State University

Graduate Student School of Social Work

Stepanie J. Nawyn, Michigan State University

Assistant Professor Department of Sociology


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