REFUFAM studies the integration of refugee families by providing scientific evidence on the impact of policy gaps and support structures.
In Belgium, competences of migration (e.g. asylum and family reunification) and integration (e.g. education, work and housing) are divided between federal, regional and municipal governance levels, while support services are dispersed across a range of civil society organizations and state actors. Compared to neighboring countries like the Netherlands, Germany or France, Belgium’s lack of central coordination has created substantial ‘policy gaps’. This has created both risks and opportunities: in the interstices between governments’ competences, new support practices often emerge, some of which are then (partially) transformed into formal policies.
REFUFAM will therefore provide scientific evidence on the impact of so-called ‘policy gaps’ and emergent support structures on the integration process of one particular group: refugees and their family members. The interdisciplinary research design consists of three pillars, building on different disciplines: a legal-political pillar examining the institutional configuration of Belgium’s of asylum and integration policies; a psychosocial pillar analyzing refugee family members’ mental well-being; and a socio-spatial pillar documenting their local integration pathways.
In analyzing this multi-layered integration process, REFUFAM innovatively takes refugee families as its central analytic unit. REFUFAM’s impact is situated at 4 levels: government policies, practitioners, scholarly debates and the broader public. For more information, see here.