One of the main objectives of the SPRING project is to ‘identify successful and sustainable practices of integration of newly arrived migrants’. But embedded in this goal is a key question: What exactly makes a migration practice ‘successful’ and ‘sustainable’ and how can this be assessed? In order to answer this question, the Migration Policy Group was assigned the role of creating an ‘Evaluation Grid’ in order to assess the quality of migrant integration practices. An overview of this evaluation grid is now provided below.
The aim of this grid is to provide an evaluation tool to examine different aspects of migrant integration practices to assess their quality. The draft below consists of five main criteria, relevant key questions, and checklist items. The checklist items represent the fundamental features every migrant integration practice should strive for. However, the grid will not be used as a holistic tool for all good practices and assessments will be carried out by considering the scope, the context and target groups of practices and highlight their quality with regard to the criteria where they can be considered as being exemplary.
According to this evaluation grid, successful integration is a two-way process engaging both receiving societies and migrants. In line with the European Pillar of Social Rights and common European values enshrined in the EU Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, integration practices should strive for a multicultural integration model which considers respective differences, empower those facing disadvantages and give equal opportunities to all to enjoy their rights and participate in community and social life. Integration practices can address social, economic and cultural integration in different stages and phases of integration process such as pre-departure, early integration and long-term integration through mainstream or tailor-made services.
The SPRING evaluation grid contains 5 key areas of evaluation, now outlined below.
1. Inclusivity & Participation
Contrary to a top-down policy-driven method, a participatory and inclusive form of action is crucial for two-way long-term integration. The basis for successful migrant integration also lies in respect for diverse cultures, religions and ethnicities. Integration practices should aim to provide services which ensure that equal access is central to all activities. Services should also recognise and respond to specific needs and vulnerabilities of their migrant beneficiaries. Migrants’ participation and meaningful engagement is key to improve integration practices.
- Does the practice ensure that its services are accessible and responsive to diverse groups?
- Adopt a participatory, gender mainstreaming and age sensitive inclusive approach and secure equal opportunities to your beneficiaries (women and men of all ages, LGBTI depending on the specific target group, persons with disabilities and specific needs, such as women at risk and unaccompanied minors).
- Make sure to provide precise, easy-to-read and accessible information on how to access services in different languages, formats and through different communication channels
- Ensure that equality and diversity are an essential part of how services are delivered, taking into consideration the different needs and capacities.
- Make reasonable adjustments in the way you deliver services to take account of the particular needs of your target group (e.g providing childcare for (single) parents, specific adjustments for disabled persons, providing flexible services at flexible hours, adapted and informal support for migrants)
- Does the practice involve active participation of the receiving society?
- Consider integration as a two-way process and aim to contribute to changes also on the side of the receiving society (behaviour, norms, institutions)
- Foresee an active role of the receiving society in the design and implementation stages (e.g. volunteers) and encourage members of the receiving communities and beneficiaries to work together in the actions
- Does the practice consult with its beneficiaries and involve them in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the action?
- Organise consultation activities with beneficiaries (e.g migrants, migrant associations, community leaders) to co-create the actions together with migrants where possible and get their feedback on the design and evaluation of the action
- Use flexible and interculturally adapted formats and compensate participants for their contribution
- Provide appropriate feedback mechanisms for beneficiaries to safely express their opinions about the quality of services
2. Relevance & Complementarity
Aligning with the needs of migrants and other beneficiaries is crucial to develop successful integration practices. The practices should consider their actions’ relevance to context, quality and systematic improvement among migrant groups in general as well as relevance for long-term integration. The practices should also be relevant to wider integration priorities and strategies and strive for filling existing gaps in integration support through their actions.
- Are the objectives and activities of the practice relevant to the needs of the migrants?
- Identify and analyse the needs of migrant target groups and prioritise methods which ask migrants about their needs directly (interviews/focus groups and surveys)
- Identify and analyse gaps in integration support and design actions to fill these gaps
- Aim for systemic improvement, satisfying the needs of a majority of the target group in the target area
- Is the practice relevant to empower migrants, strengthen their autonomy and support long-term integration?
- Devise actions with the overarching goal of giving migrants more autonomy and independence
- Contribute to migrants’ engagement with the community for the common good
- Make sure that your services contribute to the strengthening of the capacities of migrants/migrant communities
- Include (or create the preconditions for) actions that facilitate long-term integration (such as providing language courses in higher proficiency levels as well; vocational training and employment opportunities tailored to the needs of migrants)
- Make sure to address discrimination and information gaps as obstacles to long-term integration
- Does the practice align with the priorities, strategic goals and policies of other relevant stakeholders, and contribute to the wider integration framework?
- Ensure that all actions are in line with international and European human rights standards
- Employ regional/local, national and EU/international level integration related guidelines and tools
- Make sure that your services contribute to the strengthening of the capacities of relevant institutions to support future development (the contributions of the practice might include: policy or strategy change; legislative reform; institutional reforms; governance reforms; increased accountability for public expenditures; or improved processes for public consultation in development planning)
Evaluation and assessment are key to understand the extent of achievement of objectives in integration practices. To offer an effective integration service to migrants, practices should have clear and comprehensive plans for every step of the action and constantly monitor the progress of the action. The implementers should also be prepared for potential obstacles during implementation and be able to plan alternative scenarios.
- Is the practice adequately planned and based on a comprehensive design?
- Aim for actions that achieve observable outcomes among the target group or contribute to changes (individual, community or institutional levels) over the implementation of the action
- Make sure that the objectives and planned results (outputs, outcomes) of your activity are feasible and clear
- Make sure that your practice is based on indicators that are measurable, achievable and relevant
- Develop a staff management plan to identify the human resources with the right skills to work with beneficiaries, training needs and further qualification of team members
- Develop a communication strategy already in the design phase of the action and pay attention to communication with host communities and local authorities
- Does the practice regularly monitor implementation and evaluate its results?
- Make sure to regularly monitor the implementation of the action and compare actual performance (e.g budget, scope, schedules) to the goals set in the design of the action
- Anticipate the obstacles that might occur and plan alternative scenarios during the design phase of the action
- Make sure that you achieve your intended results with your outputs and outcomes (e.g training, handbooks, tools, research)
- Identify if the outcomes of the practice are considered successful by beneficiaries, the host community, funders, practitioner community and policymakers
- Identify if your interventions contribute to long-term sustainable changes (e.g. by consulting beneficiaries at least one year after receiving support)
Sustainability is crucial to maintain the continuity of the benefits of migrant integration practices overtime. To have sustainable integration practices, it is necessary to get access to long-term funding or generate independent funding through business development and entrepreneurship activities. Sustainability is also about examining financial, social, environmental and organizational capacities to assess the continuity of integration activities.
- Does the practice prepare to utilise its benefits after the completion of the action?
- Anticipate already in the design phase opportunities to continue the intervention after completion;
- Prepare and apply a well-defined sustainability plan (including costs and finances) to ensure the continuation of the positive effects and benefits of the action
- Devote resources in the implementation phase to the build-up of capacities to make sure that the human resources, expertise and infrastructure are in place to sustain the services at the end of the action
- Does the practice attract structural funding, support from new sponsors and individuals or have a potential to develop a business model to generate its own resources?
- Develop partnerships and relations with relevant stakeholders at the early stage of the action to ensure that you have strong support and potential partners to continue after the primary funding terminates
- Identify new EU and national funding opportunities for long-term integration (e.g shifting from project-based initiatives that are limited in time, dependent on one (external) donor, to a comprehensive multi-year strategy based on secured funding or diverse funding opportunities)
- Diversify funding opportunities and identify options for self-financing through business activities or social entrepreneurship
5. Partnership and cooperation
Strong cooperation between the different actors (e.g. migrants, host communities, public authorities and institutions, social and economic partners, civil society organisations, academia, schools, churches, religious and other value-based communities and the private sector) working at various levels is essential for successful, effective and sustainable integration. Integration practices, therefore, should engage in regular consultation and structural dialogue with relevant stakeholders at every stage of their action.
- Does the practice establish communication and coordination with other relevant actors to foster the integration of migrants? (e.g migrants, civil society, public authorities, businesses)
- Ensure the involvement and participation of key stakeholders in development phase and develop strategies to involve them in the action
- Include multi-stakeholder consultation to involve professionals, institutions and citizens to promote meaningful participation of refugees and migrants, and support a joint sense of ownership of decisions and actions
- Does the practice contribute to discussion on improvement of integration support policies?
- Seize opportunities to contribute to the development of comprehensive integration strategies involving EU-level/national/regional/local authorities, service providers and civil society
- Work with relevant partners (local authorities, NGOs, social partners, research, institutions, etc.) to jointly review operations, practices, services and integration outcomes