The Year in Review - 2011 Year End Newsletter
Despite the downturn in overseas refugee arrivals last year, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and its partners served nearly 102,500 new arrivals in Fiscal Year 2011, including 56,379 refugees; 24,845 asylees; 11,114 Cuban/Haitian Entrants and Parolees; 7,120 Unaccompanied Alien Children; 1,400 Unaccompanied Refugee Minors; 1,033 Special Immigrant Visa holders; 565 Victims of Trafficking, and 40 Amerasians.
None of this could have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of our partners on the ground: in the state and local governments, voluntary agencies and Mutual Assistance Associations, mainstream providers and private industry, and most importantly, the many volunteers who form the backbone of the U.S. Resettlement Program and the ideals it seeks to uphold.
The highest number of overseas arrivals mirrored arrivals in the past few years, with Burmese (16,901) and Bhutanese (14,882) leading, followed by Cubans, Iraqis (9,415), Somalis (3,148), Iranians (2,024) and Eritreans (1,980). In all, the U.S. received refugees from more than 65 different countries across the globe this past year, most of them having spent many years in countries of asylum, and all of them now given a chance to live in freedom and security.
To facilitate their successful integration and resettlement, ORR launched several new initiatives in Fiscal Year 2011, including a brand-new Microenterprise Development Home-Based Child Care Program. Recognizing that refugee mothers are often excluded from traditional employment and microenterprise programming, this new initiative provided $2.25 million in grant funding to 13 organizations, designed to prepare refugee mothers to establish and operate their own child care centers. Not only does it provide a source of sustainable income for the women business owners, it also allows them to care for their own children while they work, and offer culturally-competent child care to other working moms in their communities.
Another new initiative for FY2011 is the provision of a Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) grant to create a resource center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) refugees, to ensure that LGBT refugees are received in communities able to meet their full scope of needs, in the most welcoming environment possible.
ORR continues to hold regular conference calls with State Refugee Coordinators and Health Coordinators, and with Ethnic Community Based Organizations, and has also expanded collaborations with partners within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to raise the profile of refugees, and link refugees and service providers to key programs and assistance. One tangible result of these collaborations was the awarding of nearly $4 million in funding to five ORR grantees, under the ACF Office of Family Assistance Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grant.
ORR was pleased to initiate HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ trip to a Resettlement Transit Center in Langata, Kenya this summer, where she was briefed on the overseas medical screening process and the importance of presumptive treatments in the prevention of infectious diseases. The Secretary also joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the Refugee Admissions Consultation with Congress to discuss the Presidential Ceiling on refugee admission for FY 2012.
As many of you also witnessed, Secretary Sebelius attended the 2011 ORR National Consultation for the second year in a row, delivering a heart-felt speech of support for refugees and the contributions they have made to our country. This year’s National Consultation was our most successful and well-attended one yet—due in great part to all of you, and we thank you for your collaboration and contributions.
Looking forward to 2012, ORR is busy readying its new website, set for initial launch in late January 2012. Be sure to check out the site as it progresses, which will feature success stories from ORR’s partners, refugee profiles, and an updated funding map showcasing all ORR grants by state and program. The new site will be linked from www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/.
ORR remains committed to putting refugees at the forefront of all we do, and we applaud and encourage your efforts to do the same. Here are some of the successes achieved in ORR programs in Fiscal Year 2011, with your help:
Anti-Trafficking in Persons
In addition to offering comprehensive case management to foreign victims of human trafficking and supporting public awareness and outreach campaigns to help identify victims, ORR also certifies victims. Certification makes them eligible to receive federally funded benefits and services to the same extent as refugees so that victims can rebuild their lives safely in the United States. In FY 2011, 463 certifications were issued to adult victims of human trafficking and 102 eligibility letters were issued to child victims.
Individual Development Accounts
During FY 2010, ORR’s Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program awarded $4.7 million to 22 grantees in 20 states. Consequently, grantees were able to provide financial literacy training to over 2,300 refugees, including asset-specific training such as home ownership, financing education, and business planning. Grantees provided some $3.5 million for asset purchases to refugees, assisted refugees in leveraging ORR funds to purchase assets in excess of $8.25 million, and assisted hundreds of refugees in accessing post-secondary education and training.
Additionally, ORR signed an MOU with the Office of Community Services’ Assets for Independence (AFI) program to implement a two-pronged approach to increase IDA access to refugees. This includes contracting with technical assistance providers with extensive refugee experience to assist refugee-serving organizations in obtaining AFI funding, and to assist AFI grantees reach more refugees. Through this collaboration, five organizations that have a refugee focus were funded by AFI at a total of $1.7 million. Four of the organizations are currently ORR IDA grantees.
In FY2011, the Matching Grant program transitioned from a program year to the federal fiscal year beginning in 2012. ORR served 29,696 people in the Matching Grant program in 2011, with 51% of program participants entering employment; 56% becoming self-sufficient (not dependent on any cash assistance) within the first 120 days post-arrival, and 71% attaining self-sufficiency at 180 days after arrival.
In all three categories, program targets were exceeded by ORR’s grantees; this increase can be attributed to the recovering U.S. job market and the grantees continued adaptation to a more challenging economy. The program expects this positive growth to continue in PY 2011, as the job market strengthens and service providers continue to refine their methods of job development and placement.
A direct result of ORR’s push to increase its working relationship with other federal agencies, the ACF Office of Community Services included refugee service providers as eligible applicants in its FY2011 announcement for Job Opportunity for Low Income Individuals (JOLI) funding. As a result, three of ORR’s partners—the Business Outreach Center, Center for People in Need and International Rescue Committee--were awarded $270,000 each from OCS, nearly 25% of the total amount awarded.
In FY 2011, the Microenterprise program was funded at $4 million for 18 grantees, operating in 15 states. Collectively, these programs served 3,032 refugees, providing business training, pre-loan/post-loan technical assistance, and loan provision. The grantees made 558 loans to refugee entrepreneurs, totaling more than $4.6 million, of which more than $3.25 million was leveraged from other sources, and creating 743 new job opportunities through these businesses.
ORR Refugee Placement
Based on the National Security Council-led interagency process, ORR and the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) instituted joint quarterly placement consultations with resettlement stakeholders. In 2011, ORR and PRM co-hosted four quarterly placement consultations. Hundreds of representatives from resettlement agencies, state refugee coordinators, refugee health coordinators, ORR’s Ethnic Community Self-Help program grantees, and ORR technical assistance grantees participated.
ORR and PRM shared information on new arrival numbers, overseas pipeline and populations, ORR funding opportunities, refugee employment outcomes, a variety of mainstream services available to refugees and a host of resettlement indicators. In addition, ORR provided resource information and data to assist PRM in their FY11 and FY12 Consolidated Refugee Placement Plans. This collaborative effort is designed to improve the initial refugee placement process.
In FY2011, the Preventive Health grant entered a new funding cycle. ORR announced the availability of $4.7 million in funds under the grant for FY2012. The new cycle will last three years. After an informative review process, 38 applicants were selected to receive awards. Funded projects will work toward the goal of increasing the number of refugees and other ORR-eligible populations who receive a health screening soon after arrival. Projects include such activities as transportation assistance, interpretation, and health education for refugees.
Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program
Fifty people attended the annual Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program (RAPP) Workshop in Washington, D.C. in January, including representatives of all 14 RAPP grantees, plus others from eight non-grantee organizations. Presentations were made by experienced grantees, six USDA staff members, and representatives of two national private organizations. ORR conducted monitoring visits to six of the 14 grantees this year, eight of which received RAPP funds this year for the first time.
The RAPP Network continues to expand its reach, due to widespread interest in community gardens and farming among refugee serving organizations and populations. With 14 current grantees in 13 states, and an active network of past grantees, the program also receives outstanding media attention, including a full-page article in the New York Times, and hundreds of profiles in newspapers, on television and radio across the country. More than 240 persons receive and exchange information through the RAPP Listserv; a sign-up link is available on the ORR website.
A lesser-known program of ORR is its Repatriation program, which repatriates American citizens from foreign countries following natural disaster or crisis, or personal distress. Even in the absence of large-scale disasters such as the Haitian earthquake of 2010, ORR’s Repatriation Program served 720 citizens and their dependents in FY2011, coming from such countries as Mexico, the United Kingdom, Israel and Germany.
In 2011 ORR worked to improve and enhance programs by improving measurement instruments. After almost a year of work with the ACF’s Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation and the Office of Management and Budget, a revision was finally approved by OMB for the ORR trimester reporting instrument. Among many enhancements, a new efficiency measure was developed to indicate the success of the Refugee Cash Assistance program and overall refugee self-sufficiency for refugee cash assistance recipients. Similarly, ORR has revised budget estimate data collection tool to improve cost estimates, financial planning and overall fiscal management. ORR has also initiated renewal of the State Plan annually submitted by States for certification of their Refugee Resettlement plan.
Following up on an alarming rise in suicides within certain refugee communities, ORR partnered with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and ORR’s Technical Assistance provider, the Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center (RHTAC), initiating an epidemiological study to better understand the underlying causes and associated risk factors (e.g., camp experiences and cultural beliefs) contributing to a cluster of suicides among Bhutanese and Burmese refugees.
To design a response strategy, RHTAC reached out to Bhutanese community members and experts in the field, including the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the QPR Institute, and Living Works, developer of the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). A master level gatekeeper training was held in Boston in September, with 10 Bhutanese individuals from eight states participating. In April 2011, ORR requested a rapid assessment Epi-Aid protocol from the CDC on the issue, with translation of the resulting instruments into Nepali. Data collection in resettlement communities in Arizona, Georgia, New York, and Texas is scheduled to beginning winter 2012.
Supplemental Services for Recently Arrived Refugees
In FY 2011, the Supplemental Services for Recently Arrived Refugees program funded 14 programs at $2,630,037 in 11 States. The Supplemental Services program provides services to newly arriving refugees and unexpected large secondary migration of refugees where communities may not be sufficiently prepared in terms of linguistic or culturally appropriate services for incoming populations. More than 4,500 refugees and asylees received assistance through the services offered by these programs.
Unaccompanied Alien Children
In FY 2011, there were 7,120 new placements of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) into ORR care and 3,247 UAC were reunified with family members and sponsors. ORR funds care provider facilities nationwide to provide a safe environment for UAC, until they were reunified with family members or sponsors in the U.S.; repatriated to their home country by immigration officials; turn 18 years of age, or receive immigration relief. The children receive classroom education, health care, mental health services, and case management.
Under a $6.1 million contract with the Vera Institute, ORR expanded the Legal Access Project to provide legal services to all UAC, allowing 6,594 children in ORR care and 406 released children to receive legal services in FY2011. ORR also matched 174 exceptionally vulnerable unaccompanied alien children with child advocates. In addition, ORR collaborated with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) for the successful implementation of the Legal Orientation Program for sponsors of UACs in 13 metropolitan areas.
Unaccompanied Refugee Minors
Through its network of caretakers, ORR offered specialized foster care to unaccompanied refugee minors (URM), designed to meet their special needs and to help them develop social skills to enter adulthood. During FY 2011, over 1,400 youth were served in the URM program, with 317 minors entering the program. The URM team conducted a Working Session during the 2011 ORR National Consultation for 100 participants from local service providers, state partners, national voluntary agencies and ORR staff. Highlights included presentations by URM youth in the program, a session on family tracing and reunification and a session focused on trauma and mental health.
Eskinder Negash, Director of ORR