Involve the people you serve
Refugees, immigrants and migrants have made important contributions to communities across the United States, and they have shown remarkable strength and resilience. Involving the communities you serve in your planning and decision-making practices will only enhance the services you offer. Members of any community know best how to communicate with their peers, which is why we advocate for community involvement as a central element to any COVID-19 response.
Ukrainian Refugee Crisis Response: Actively and Authentically Engaging Communities in Outbreak Response Activities
As one of the largest destination states for United for Ukraine arrivals, Washington Department of Health (WA DOH) has implemented programs and community outreach strategies during the COVID-19 response aimed at engaging Russian and Ukrainian speaking communities, and have also been able to effectively pivot in response to the larger Ukrainian refugee crisis. Recognizing the barriers to vaccination for the community, they developed best and promising practices to address these challenges.
Creating a Community Advisory Board
Community advisory boards (CABs) are comprised of community members of who serve as equal partners to those in the healthcare or public health system. CAB members bridge cultural differences and increase trust by assisting with project planning, prioritizing, and implementing activities; vetting educational or other resources; and communicating with community members. Learn how you can get started with a CAB in your community:
Promising Practices are strategies, approaches, or programs that have anecdotally shown to have a positive impact in some local settings, however, there is not yet enough research-based evidence to certify as a best practice.
Utilizing Community Health Boards to Build Community Capacity
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) communities and highlighted health inequities that often stem from a lack of trust and understanding between RIM communities and public health or healthcare agencies. Community health boards can serve as an effective strategy to build capacity within a community as well as provide community members with a trusted resource for health information and guidance.
Building vaccine confidence takes time and trust. Client-facing staff and others working directly with community members seeking to dispel fear, misinformation, and disinformation will usually need to engage and explore people's hesitancy before sharing accurate information. One helpful way to do this is using some of the techniques found in Motivational Interviewing.
Community fairs are a promising way to offer vaccination and other useful services to RIM communities in a relaxed and informal setting. Hosted at an accessible site, community fairs can be organized around themes ranging from school to community health to community resources like food, rent and utility assistance. Read more about how community fairs can be implemented in your community.
Using Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR)
Traditional research methods do not commonly reflect community voices, and perspectives. Often community members are not meaningfully engaged in the research process. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is a collaborative approach to research that involves engaging community members, researchers, and organizational representatives as equal partners to enhance understanding of a given problem, create change and ideally improve health challenges.
Youth and Young Adult Ambassadors
Youth and young adults continue to have low COVID-19 vaccination rates across the US. Engaging youth is vital in the next stage of vaccine promotion and for reaching herd immunity. Learn how youth ambassadors bring their unique perspectives on how to cut through the noise to deliver important COVID-19 messaging to young people.
Partnering with Social Media Influencers
Social media is a primary source of information for much of the US public, especially youth and young adults. Organizations that are unable to utilize social media to engage with the community can result in a trusted and known presence being absent from this important space, allowing myths, misinformation and disinformation to spread without competition. A solution that can help LHDs and CBOs reach RIM communities through social media, while saving time and effort, is leveraging existing social media influencers.
Hyperlocal Videos of City and State COVID-19 Updates
It is vital that linguistically and culturally appropriate messaging created by and from the community is accessible. These informal videos respond to RIM communities’ expressed concerns while disseminating major local and regional updates from city and state officials.
The Benefits of Community Advisory Boards
The use of community advisory boards is a promising practice that can support equity-focused initiatives to combat COVID-19.
Health Equity Zones
The purpose of a health equity zone is to create and equip neighbors and community partners with resources to foster a healthy and vibrant community. This approach can be applied to COVID-19 response among RIM communities.
Vaccine Ambassadors Program
The Vaccine Ambassador program is led by a state health department and supports community members to serve as trusted messengers of COVID-19 vaccine information.
Community mapping is a virtual mapping method created through community engagement that elicits local community members and their networks and is a powerful tool to identify and reach RIM communities.
Embedding Equity throughout the COVID-19 Response Organizational Structure
It is essential to integrate considerations for refugee, immigrant, and migrant communities into all aspects of public health response efforts. Read more about the Minnesota Department of Health’s work to embed equity throughout the COVID-19 response organizational structure.
Supporting Mental Health in RIM Communities During COVID-19 and Beyond
Ensuring equitable, barrier-free access to mental health support and resources is especially critical for RIM communities to mitigate the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on this population and prevent further trauma.
Partnerships with Consulates
Engaging with consulates is a strategy for building or enhancing relationships with refugee, immigrant, and migrant communities.
Partnerships with Youth Groups
Partnerships with existing community groups are essential for reaching underserved communities and improving the delivery of COVID-19 related services, resources, and information. Youth groups can be especially effective outreach partners.
Culturally Specific Vaccine Information Broadcasts
By partnering with media outlets that are trusted in the community, vaccine messages can be culturally tailored and address unique concerns.
Engaging Community Leaders with Public Health Authorities
Collaboration between community leaders and public health authorities can improve the dissemination of accurate COVID-19 prevention messaging, strengthen relationships with RIM communities, and ensure that public health interventions reflect the perspective of RIM communities.
COVID Champions: Trusted Faith Leaders
A COVID-19 Champion is someone who helps disseminate accurate information on public health and safety, local support services, and their own experiences relating to COVID-19 to specific communities, including related to COVID-19 vaccines.
Community Health Workers
Community health workers are deeply rooted in their communities, often members of the community themselves, and are uniquely positioned to partner with health departments and other organizations in COVID-19 response.
COVID-19 hotlines, organized by volunteers and health providers who are members of or work in RIM communities, provide a forum for patients’ families to seek information and communicate more effectively with their health providers.
Partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
FQHCs and local health departments share goals to improve community health, particularly among disproportionately impacted populations. Collaboration allows limited federal, state, and local resources to be targeted and allocated to areas that need the resources most.
Vaccine Campaign Partnerships with Faith-Based Organizations
Faith-based organizations frequently play an integral role within communities. Select this promising practice to learn more about involving faith-based organizations in vaccine campaigns.
Partnerships with State Refugee Health Coordinators
State Refugee Health Coordinators can help state and local public health departments better address refugee health needs as part of a comprehensive and effective COVID-19 public health response. Select this promising practice to learn more.
Community Testimonials for Health Messaging
Testimonials are powerful tools to portray real stories from community members.
COVID-19 Community Coordinators
Health departments have begun to formalize relationships with community-based organizations to connect diverse communities to COVID-19 resources. Select this promising practice to learn more about how COVID-19 Community Coordinator model.
Vulnerable Populations Taskforce
The creation of a vulnerable populations task force is a promising practice to address the needs of community members impacted and further disenfranchised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Select this promising practice to learn more about how task forces can operate remotely and offer an opportunity to engage a wide range of stakeholders.
Community Liaisons to Connect Health Departments with Communities
Community liaisons are staff within a health department who are members of refugee, immigrant, and migrant and other disproportionately impacted communities. Select this promising practice to learn how liaisons build relationships with community members, collaborate with local public health, and connect with external partners.
Vaccine Listening Sessions with Communities
A listening session is a facilitated discussion with a group of individuals aimed at collecting information about a specific topic. Listening sessions are an effective way to hear directly from communities about COVID-19-related topics, including vaccines. Select this promising practice to learn more about vaccine listening sessions.
Community Contractors for Health Messaging
Community-based organizations (CBOs) and diverse media vendors provide culturally and linguistically appropriate guidance using a community contractor model of partnership. Select this promising practice to learn more about creating trusted, timely and, and culturally-relevant health information.
Facebook Videos to Engage Communities
The use of Facebook to share informational videos about COVID-19 among RIM communities and/or to deliver live content through the Facebook Live feature are promising practices for reaching RIM communities.
Community Movie Night + Information Exchange
Health departments are partnering with community-based organizations (CBO) to host outdoor movie nights in apartment complexes where members of refugee, immigrant, and migrant communities live. During intermissions or after the movie, PSAs developed by the CBO or health department are shared.
Communities of Practice (CDC)
The CDC has developed a toolkit to learn and build Communities of Practice (CoPs) that support groups of people sharing a set of problems and solutions through regulation interaction. Click on this link to learn more about CoPs and how they can support your efforts.
Principles of Authentic Community Engagement (MDH)
The Minnesota Department of Health has developed a set of principles to guide community engagement. While not specific to COVID-19, these principles are relevant to COVID-19 response among refugees, immigrants, and migrants.
Refugee Health Profiles (CDC)
The CDC has collected health and cultural information about specific refugee groups resettling in the United States. Information is gathered from the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the U.S. Department of State, scientific research, and many other sources.
The NRC-RIM team wants to hear from you. Please contact us with suggestions for additional training or communication resources - either an existing resource that you have found useful or suggestions for resources to be developed.