About Care Forward

What we do

About Care Forward

Care Forward is a career guidance training project for female refugees to facilitate the entry into caregiving and early education professions.

It begins with a two-week course during which the participants learn the basics about working in these professions: What kind of jobs are out there and what are the training options? How do most application processes work? The course also deals with German labour rights and workplace culture.

Jobs for refugees: Opportunities with and without formal training

The program offers an introduction to qualified jobs in the care industry, such as preschool teacher and occupational health or geriatric nurse. In order to showcase what these professions truly entail, we arrange excursions to partner organisations (elderly care homes, hospitals, childcare centres) to see what the day-to-day tasks looks like and to meet professionals in that field. We also introduce refugees to part- and full-time jobs without formal training requirements, such as working with senior citizens or offering childcare or household work in private homes. By offering a range of opportunities we can introduce women in different circumstances and with different educational backgrounds to career trajectories in the care sector.

In addition, each participant receives individualised career counselling to develop a personal career profile. By taking into account the participants’ current life situations and challenges, their wishes and hopes as well as their qualifications, we can customize our guidance and help each woman chart her own personalized career path. Most of the course participants come from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, which is why our courses are held in German and Arabic or Dari.

Having a profession is the key to successful integration and a self-determined life, especially for asylum seeking women who would like to make productive contributions to their new home.

In fact, they can contribute to solving a central problem within our labour market. Currently, there are approximately one million unfilled job openings in Germany. In particular, the caregiving and preschool education sector are desperate for more trained workers. According to estimates, by 2030, Germany will have approximately 500,000 unfilled jobs in the caregiving sector.

Integration and filling a crucial role in caregiving and early childhood education

There is also a great need for support in the private sector. Female migrants are already delivering an important service to our society by taking care of our dearest ones, particularly in private geriatric care, childcare and in households. Care Forward program candidates can bring additional support to families who are looking for caregivers, in turn allowing heads of housholds, and particularly women, go back to work.

Hearing this, one would think that job opportunities in the caregiving and early childhood education sectors would be good for female refugees. But in reality, the bureaucratic and cultural hurdles of the German labour market as well as the lack of qualifications make it difficult for these women.

Care Forward wants to change this for the benefit of everyone.

Care Forward offers solutions to two fundamental societal challenges: the ever-growing lack of trained care workers and the need for a more inclusive economy for migrant women who are often on the fringes of the labour market. Care Forward´s goal is to help program participants find meaningful career trajectories in the care sector that will help these women live dignified lives and integrate into the German society.

Over the next few years Care Forward will train participants all over Germany and fill thousands of open job and apprenticeship positions, especially in preschools, elderly care homes, hospitals and in the hospitality industry. Because of the technological preconditions and the global reach of the project initiators – Care.com and International Rescue Committee – the chances are good that Care Forward will even expand internationally in the future.

>> Hire a refugee
Laura Esnaola
Laura Esnaola

Laura, who was born in Spain, has lived and worked in over 20 countries. She never let herself be guided by her entrepreneurial spirit alone. Aiming to make a positive difference in society, Laura engaged in ambitious projects that strive for just that: While still a student of economics at Yale University, she developed a program that supported the financial independence of women in rural Guatemala. Some of her professional stops along the way have been the non-profit organization Endeavor Global, Premise Data and the Boston Consulting Group. In 2016, Laura started her next mission at Care.com Europe, for which she has formulated two goals: With the Care Forward Project, she wants to help refugee women integrate into working life in Germany, while at the same time counteracting the shortage of skilled workers.

Linda Robens
Linda Robens

Linda studied international development and transcultural communication at the University of Vienna and in Granada, Spain. Her special interest has always been in environmental and sustainability issues. In high school, and later in college, Linda lived in Argentina, Nicaragua, Samoa and New Zealand. These experiences taught her to combine an open mind with a calm disposition, a synergy that she contributes to Care Forward today. Linda worked as a program manager in the field of animal rights and plant-based nutrition before dedicating herself wholeheartedly to the labour market integration of refugees.

Ralph Achenbach
Ralph Achenbach

Ralph has been working on the establishment and expansion of IRC Germany, an international humanitarian aid organization with projects in 40 countries. In Germany, the IRC supports refugee relief, for example, through technical advice in the areas of education, protection from violence and labour market integration. Our team not only benefits from the field-tested methods from his work in international programs, but also from Ralphs extensive experience. From 2005 to 2015, he coordinated the refugee integration project in one of the largest IRC offices in the United States, where he additionally coordinated a regional network that united different institutions involved in refugee aid. Previous to that, he dedicated himself to supporting discriminated people in rural Thailand and China. Ralph studied in London and Cambridge.

Stefan Lehmeier
Stefan Lehmeier

After completing his degree in international relations, Stefan lived in Dresden, Moscow and Birmingham. He later spent time in Sudan, Congo, Ecuador and the north Caucasus region, working on IRC projects, among other things. His next stop was Canada, where he established the department for results monitoring at the Pearson Centre and helped World Vision refocus their lobby work. Stefan has been part of the IRC team for the integration of refugees in Germany since 2016. As the father in a German-Canadian family, he can attest to the fact that intercultural cohesion can bear great potential.

Lina Thillosen
Lina Thillosen

Lina studied social work as well as peace and conflict research in Cologne, Marburg and Palestine. After that she was active in the legal counseling of refugees in Israel and Palestine. She was also able to pursue her great interest in other countries and cultures through further stays abroad, such as in France, Malta and Tanzania. Lina has now been working with IRC since October 2017 and wants to support the career trajectories of especially refugee women.

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

IRC supports people who have been affected by war and crisis in order to ensure their safety and the recovery of their future. The organization has offered lifesaving help to people since 1933, particularly to refugees. Today, the IRC works for and with approximately 23 million people in over 40 countries. IRC Germany supports refugees with projects in the areas of education, labour and protection from violence.



Care.com is the world’s biggest platform for family caregiving. The matching platform lets caregivers contact families that are looking for help around the house and yard or with taking care of children, seniors and animals. Care.com was founded in 2006 in the United States and now has more than 27 million members in 20 countries. It is based out of Waltham, Massachusetts and has offices in Berlin, Austin and in the San Francisco Bay Area.



We would like to say thank you to our partners and those who support our work. They have contributed to Care Forward’s great start!

We are constantly looking for further partners to support Care Forward. Please contact us, if you are interested. We would like to meet you!