This evaluation was performed between 09/17/2018 and 03/16/2019 and the report was submitted on 03/1/2019. The Department of State (DOS), Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) contracted SSG Advisors, d.b.a. Resonance to undertake the evaluation.
Purpose of the Evaluation and Questions Addressed
DOS PRM supports the Humanitarian Migrants to Israel (HMI) Program which provides financial resources for the resettlement of humanitarian migrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU), Eastern Europe, Africa, the Near East and other countries of distress in Israel. The grant is implemented by the United Israel Appeal (UIA) through the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) who manage absorption centers throughout the country. The program’s goal is to integrate FSU and Ethiopian migrants into the larger Israeli society through Hebrew language acquisition, preparation for and entry into the workforce, and the attainment of housing.
The evaluation’s scope included identifying international best practices, specifying areas of opportunity for the program, and providing actionable recommendations geared towards improving the program. The primary audiences include DOS/PRM in its role as a funder of the program, as well as UIA and JAFI in their roles as implementers. The following evaluation questions were addressed:
- Integration into Israeli Society: To what extent has the HMI program been successful in preparing migrants for long-term integration, including finding work and affordable housing?
2.1 Program Management: What adjustments to the HMI program would better prepare participants, particularly those living temporarily in absorption centers, for long-term integration?
2.2 Program Management: How can the UIA concretely measure integration success in language acquisition, employment, and self-reliance?
3.1 Beneficiary Feedback: To what extent did beneficiaries report that the integration assistance provided by UIA and its partners was useful?
3.2 Beneficiary Feedback: How better can UIA and the JAFI gather and incorporate into its programming beneficiary feedback?
The HMI Evaluation used a mixed-methods design with a dominant qualitative approach, incorporating the use of three methods to collect primary and secondary data including (1) Key Informant Interviews; (2) Focus Group Discussions; and (3) a Desk Review of best practices. Using a purposeful sampling strategy, the evaluation collected data from absorption center staff, UIA/JAFI management staff, and current and past absorption center residents. The evaluation’s main limitations included a difficulty in collecting data from past participants, translation of data for analysis in English language, and possible limited bias in selected of interviewees.
- Integration into Israeli Society: In relation to integration into Israeli society including language acquisition, housing, and employment the following were the main findings: 1) migrants overall were positive about their Hebrew language learning and acquisition. The exception to this were primarily elderly migrants. 2) Housing affordability remains a concern primarily among Ethiopian migrants and the housing grant provided by the government of Israel cannot cover the full cost of a house. This is outside of JAFI’s control. 3) FSU migrants have more access to JAFI-provided training programs due perhaps to outdated perceptions of the Ethiopian community’s education levels and skill-building needs by JAFI staff and government ministries.
- Program Management: Currently, JAFI lacks any ability to speak to the influence of program services on long-term integration due to a limited system and practice of monitoring and evaluation.
- Beneficiary Feedback: Migrants were generally positive about their experience in the absorption centers, particularly in regard to the efforts of absorption center staff and cultural programming. Migrants felt that they would have been better prepared for their arrival in Israel if more information were provided on the absorption centers in which they would reside.
1.1 Long-term Integration. To be better informed about the extent of success in preparing migrants, it is recommended that UIA/JAFI allocate resources into collecting data on what happens after migrants leave the absorption center.
1.2 Language & the Elderly. It would be helpful for absorption center educational staff to provide additional opportunities for elderly migrants to continue studying or practicing Hebrew after classes.
1.3 Preparation for Employment. In the current absorption centers that serve Ethiopian migrants, it is recommended to include at least two professional training courses aligned to the local market annually and the university preparation program (Taka) for those who wish to continue their university studies.
1.4 Preparation for Employment. Absorption center staff could reduce barriers to participating in training courses by scheduling in the evening or at times when migrants are least likely to work.
1.5 Preparation for Employment. Staff responsible for supporting employment opportunities could create avenues for entrepreneurship by partnering with the Israel Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (ISMEA) at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
2.1.1 Program Management. Employment Advisor services would be significantly enhanced, particularly for the higher-educated Ethiopian community, with the addition of at least two additional advisors under his/her direction were engaged to serve a designated list of centers.
2.1.2 Program Management. In absorption centers where children’s programs are not available and a need exists, educational staff could consider providing children’s services at no charge to the parents and during training/study hours for parents.
2.1.3 Program Management. It is recommended that more special programs for elderly migrants such as clubs, especially for Ethiopian migrants, could be offered by absorption center staff.
2.2.1 Measure success. To better measure success, UIA/JAFI senior staff could provide resources (time and staff) to allow disparate data from multiple sources to be centralized in JAFI’s data management system and linked to migrants.
2.2.2 Program Management. It is recommended that additional indicators are added for monitoring migrants’ time in absorption centers are added to the monitoring system including (1) job acquired while residing in absorption center and (2) efforts related to finding employment upon leaving center; and (3) housing upon leaving the center.
2.2.3 Monitoring system. To improve outcome monitoring, the creation of a procedure for periodic contact and data collection on migrants who have left the absorption centers would allow for future data collection.
2.2.4 Monitoring system. To ensure the usability of the data collected, all absorption center staff should receive ongoing training in using JAFI’s data management system.
3.1.1 Access to information. Access to information about absorption centers prior to arrival could be improved by maintaining a web presence for each absorption center.
3.2.1 Beneficiary Feedback. Regular sharing of the data on what is happening at each center could become part of the regular directors’ meetings.