International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Child Care Microenterprise Program Launches for Entrepreneurial Refugees

The IRC in Atlanta is launching a new Refugee Child Care Microenterprise program focused on helping entrepreneurial refugees start their own at-home child care businesses. In partnership with Quality Care for Children, IRC will provide business training, child care certification instruction, on-going technical assistance, and small business credit.

Photo by the IRC in Atlanta

The work of the IRC in Atlanta has a strong focus on helping legally employment-ready refugees find employment in the U.S. and assist them in achieving self-sufficiency as quickly as possible. In order to do so, these newly arrived refugees must find solutions to overcome barriers to employment, such as transportation and child care. Often these solutions are precarious and unsustainable. Refugee women in particular face even greater barriers to entering the workforce and bringing their families to true self-sufficiency. 

In many traditional refugee households, women assume a domestic role that keeps them at home and caring for children, while their spouses assume the role of earning income through full-time employment. These are generally decisions made by the family and often motivated by cultural norms. Often marginalized in their countries of origin, refugee women frequently lack fair and complete access to formal education. Additionally, many of the settings they come from have limited and informal economies that do not allow for job skill development. A year after their arrival, only 15% of the first 100 refugee women resettled by IRC Atlanta in fiscal year 2011 were successful in gaining employment.

IRC provides a broad array of services to address these challenges, now including the new Child Care Microenterprise program. Home-based child care businesses create appropriate livelihoods for many refugee women. The skills development program draws on skills they already have, creating a more feasible employment solution for refugee women who might otherwise not pursue employment.

The program helps participants become state-approved child care providers and increase their family’s self-reliance through business ownership. Local communities will also be positively impacted, as more adults can leave their children with culturally appropriate providers and enter the workforce. This program will bring economic growth to refugee households and the greater refugee community.

The Child Care Microenterprise program is open to refugees, parolees, or asylees who do not currently have U.S. citizenship status. Participants must be at least 21 years old and proficient in either English or Spanish, to be able to take the training courses and registration exam. Typical qualified candidates will have some business experience and ability to commit to the program.  To learn more about the IRC in Atlanta’s new Refugee Child Care Microenterprise program, contact Claire Stienecker, Program Coordinator, at