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Integration offers in selected Hessian districts and their institutional implementation

Study on the institutional implementation of integration offers for migrants at local level in eleven selected Hessian districts

During the last two decades a wide range of services aimed at promoting the integration of migrants has been established at local level; these are mostly financed by charitable organisations, independent sponsors and local institutions. The services have been considerably restructured and newly organised as migration work by the respective organisations due to the increased pressure caused by integration problems in the past two decades and as a result of more practical experience. However, the approaches still target integration deficits and hardly make use of the opportunities and resources resulting from the active integration of resident migrants. In addition, there are still considerable deficits regarding the information on existing services, regarding the coordination and networking of the wide range of offers in the regional and local authorities, regarding the accessibility for and participation of resident migrants and regarding the intercultural openness of regular services. It makes sense to tackle these problems at local level, as integration into the community always takes place in a concrete local social environment and as active participation of inhabitants in community life is a fundamental condition for a well-integrated community.

A number of towns and districts in Hesse have begun to tackle these problems with differing institutional approaches. Frankfurt am Main should especially be mentioned here, as this city serves as a model internationally for setting up its Office for Multicultural Affairs (AMKA). Many local authorities are seriously interested in finding suitable institutional solutions and it therefore makes sense to analyse the experiences made so far. On the basis of this analysis recommendations on the institutional coordination of integration work can be formulated, with a special focus on how to reach resident migrants at local level and encourage them to participate.

This was to be accomplished in this expert report by examining different institutional solutions in selected local authorities in Hesse, by analysing them according to criteria for the best strategies to tackle the above-mentioned problems and by formulating adequate recommendations. The recommendations in the expert report give a wide range of possible solutions and prepare a checklist for local authorities planning new integration activities. Finally, recommendations were also formulated for the Hessian Ministry for Social Affairs, focusing in particular on aspects of quality control, documentation and academic evaluation.

In the research the institutional implementation of integration measures and concepts for the coordination at local level were examined, focussing on eleven selected Hessian local authorities. The selection of the authorities to be examined included larger ones which had already developed or initiated coordination activities, medium-sized ones with concrete plans and rural ones with a special need for integration and existing projects. The authorities examined were mostly from southern and central Hesse, as the largest proportions of residents with a migration background in Hesse are to be found there.

First, an overview was compiled of integration offers and their institutional implementation in established Hessian institutions (Intercultural Office in Darmstadt, Regional Headquarters for Co-existence in Offenbach, Office for Integration in Wiesbaden). The special case of the AMKA in Frankfurt was used as a reference for analytical purposes. In addition, the overview included plans in urban areas (Wetzlar, Marburg and Limburg,) and in the district of Offenbach as well as projects in rural districts (Lollar, Rodgau and Hofgeismar) which are partly funded by the Hessian Ministry for Social Affairs.

In the data collection, details on particular characteristics and relevant features of the respective local authority were also included in order to relate the status quo of integration offers and their coordination to the concrete situation locally.

For every district examined, the general data and special features were collected, existing integration measures were discussed and, finally, coordination structures, concepts and plans for developments were presented.

In all the selected local authorities the data provided by the Ministry for Social Affairs was supplemented by an empirical study: the charitable organisations, the independent sponsors and the local institutions were asked to fill in a questionnaire; the items in the questionnaire focused on the degree of networking of the offered services, possibly existing coordination structures as well as the need for coordination. In Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Offenbach, Offenbach district, Darmstadt, Marburg, Wetzlar and Limburg in-depth face-to-face expert interviews were conducted with the responsible staff in the local authorities or the coordination centres. In Rodgau, Lollar and Hofgeismar several expert interviews were carried out via telephone. The majority of the interview partners were very interested in participating in the study. Especially with regard to the background of the local migration situations and on the status quo as well as the prospects for the coordination activities it was possible to collect extensive information which supplemented the findings from the document analysis.

The results of the local case studies were analysed on the basis of the empirical study. To do this, relevant dimensions of the integration process and the persons involved were discussed and the developing need for coordination at local level was illustrated. This was compared with the approaches used in the authorities examined. Finally, further possible solutions and perspectives were presented. Here, examples of "best practices" were discussed regarding their practical implementation, and their integration-policy objectives and with regard to findings from integration research.

Finally a number of recommendations were formulated, based on the empirical findings and the analyses. These are structured as recommendations for interested local authorities, recommendations for the federal state of Hesse and recommendations for the government. In the conclusions, results of other efms studies at local and national level were also considered.

Funding: Hessisches Sozialministerium, Wiesbaden
Completion: April 2002
Researchers: Wolfgang Bosswick, Gisela Will
Bosswick, Wolfgang / Will, Gisela: Integrationsangebote in ausgewählten hessischen Kommunen und ihre institutionelle Umsetzung. Wiesbaden 2002, 166 pages (in German) with 67 tables and 5 illustrations.

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