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Refugee Assistance Program

Contact: Tom Medina
Department of Social and Health Services
P.O. Box 45857
Olympia, WA 98504-5857
Telephone: 360.725.4636
E-mail: medintr@dshs.wa.gov

Federal Website: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/

Local Link: http://www.dshs.wa.gov/Manuals/eaz/sections/Refugee_App1.shtml

Participation: 4,748 participants were served by the Refugee Assistance Program between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.

Who is Served: Section 101 (a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act defines the term “refugee” to mean any person who is persecuted or has a well-founded fear of persecution in his or her home country because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Individuals who are allowed to immigrate to the U.S. as refugees, certain Amerasians, Cuban/Haitian entrants, victims of severe forms of trafficking, persons granted asylum, and Iraqi/Afghani Special Immigrants are eligible for services.

Program Description: The goal of the program is to assist in the resettlement of refugees in Washington and to promote economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible. This is accomplished by providing social and employment services, as well as financial and medical assistance. Services include public health screening, foster care if needed, cultural adjustment and social services, citizenship services, English language instruction, bilingual support, skills training, employment services, and job retention services.

The Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance (ORIA) in the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) administers the funding for refugee services. The State Coordinator for refugee resettlement works in ORIA and is responsible for ensuring the coordination of public and private resources for refugee resettlement in Washington.

Other Program Characteristics: The program emphasizes:

• Services be provided in a manner that is linguistically and culturally compatible with the refugee’s background.

• English language instruction be provided in a concurrent, rather than in a sequential manner with other program services.

• Offering the same opportunities for training and instruction to refugee women as men.

Program History: The program began in 1975 to help refugees successfully resettle in Washington. Program services are delivered through contracts with community-based organizations, voluntary refugee resettlement organizations (Volags), state and local government agencies, and private agencies. Washington ranks as one of the top 10 states in the US in initial refugee arrivals. Over the last five years, over 12,136 refugees initially resettled in Washington, for an average of 2,247 refugees per year.

Planning Cycle: Annual

Outcome Measures: Number of refugees receiving English as a Second Language training, health screening, public assistance, social services, employment services and job placement. For those receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Refugee Cash Assistance, the outcome is the number of refugees who obtain employment and become economically self-sufficient.

Funding and Regional Division: The Refugee Assistance Program uses the DSHS regional structure for planning and service delivery. Federal funding is allocated by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) based on the number of refugee admissions to the state. ORR also makes funding available to states through a competitive procurement process.

State Funding: $2,366,000 (July 1, 2012- June 30, 2013) State General Funds for employment and English as a Second Language training and $1,657,000 State General Funds for citizenship services for refugees and immigrants.

Federal & State:  $3,600,000 (July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013) from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Federal Funding: $2,333,044 (Oct. 1, 2012- Sept. 30, 2013) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Statutory Authority: Federal - Refugee Act of 1980, (P.L. 106-104); the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act; Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 400; State - RCW Chapter 74.

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