Archive for the ‘USCCB’ Category
U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 16, 2013
Larry Bartlett, director of refugee admissions for the U.S. State Department will visit Fort Wayne on Thursday. He will also visit local refugee resettlement efforts in Indianapolis and Detroit next week. As usual, the State Department will only meet with “stakeholders” – resettlement agencies, service providers, advocates, Mayor Tom Henry and refugees themselves. The only refugees that State visits are those chosen by the refugee resettlement contractor(s). Although “advocates” are newly listed as stakeholders, as a refugee advocate myself I can tell you that State has never, that I know of, responded to independent advocates with dissenting views or invited them to attend these meetings. Accepting criticism were due is not a skill modeled or practiced by the federal refugee resettlement oversight agencies or their contractors. An article in the Journal-Gazette has more:
FORT WAYNE – Officials for the U.S. State Department and the United Nations will visit Fort Wayne this week to learn more about refugee resettlement efforts.
Larry Bartlett, director of refugee admissions for State, and Shelly Pitterman, regional director of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, plan to meet Thursday with those described by Bartlett as “stakeholders” – resettlement agencies, service providers, advocates, Mayor Tom Henry and refugees themselves.
“We try to go to communities on a regular basis to really try to understand where the nuances are, how communities are coping and how we might, if we can, adjust some of the programs,” Bartlett said from his Washington, D.C., office in a telephone interview last week.
The last time a State Department official came to Fort Wayne to evaluate refugee resettlement services was in 2009. Bartlett also will visit refugee communities in Indianapolis and Detroit next week.
“Part of the responsibility we have is not just to see how our programs are faring but to see how the community is supporting refugees, to see where there are issues, challenges, weaknesses in the programs that we can be helpful with,” Bartlett said.
“We really do see this as a partnership with the community,” he said…
…Eric Schwartz, then an assistant secretary of the State Department, discovered what he called “heartening and dismaying” conditions for newly arriving refugees of various nationalities when he visited Fort Wayne…in 2009…
…Schwartz ended his dispatch by saying the State Department would increase its resettlement grants from $900 to $1,800 for each new refugee, an amount that has since grown to $1,875. Roughly half the money goes for administrative costs of resettlement agencies, Bartlett said, and half pays for rent, food and other necessities for the refugee…
…The State Department has a nationwide ceiling of 18,000 refugee arrivals from East Asia in fiscal 2013, which ends Sept. 30. It expects 17,500 of them to be ethnic minority Burmese who have been living in refugee camps in Malaysia and Thailand.
The department has approved Catholic Charities for 170 refugee resettlements in fiscal 2013. Read more here
We read that the State Department per head refugee resettlement grant had increased, from $1,800 in 2010 to the current $1,875 as it turns out, but this is the first mention I’ve seen in the media. The grant only covers initial resettlement efforts in the U.S. – the first 30-90 days – which the State Department claims they intend as “seed money” for the private resettlement contractors to use for resettlement, with significant private resources supposedly added in. I suppose allowing the contractors to use 50 percent of it for overhead though somewhat defeats the purpose of the “see money” policy, although it may be necessary in instances where they are unable to find private resources to add. Otherwise, wouldn’t you expect that they would use the private funding for overhead and transferring the $1,875 directly to the refugees in goods and services?
The article somewhat confuses the issue of who Burmese are by referring to “ethnic minority Burmese”. The Burmese are actually the ethnic majority group in Myanmar, with minority ethnic groups being the Arakan (aka Rakhine), Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon, Rohingyas, Shan, Zomi and others. At this blog we now refer to refugees from the country as Myanmar refugees. The Burmese were the group allied with the Japanese in World War II, while the U.S., the U.K. and others allied with the ethnic minority groups.
Posted in Burma/Myanmar, Catholic Charities of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, democracy, Detroit area, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Office of Admissions, openess and transparency in government, State Department, UN (United Nations) | Tagged: advocates, catholic charities, Detroit, fort wayne, Indianapolis, Larry Bartlett, refugees, resettlement, stakeholders, State Department, UNHCR | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 7, 2012
For some reason a lot of refugees in Indianapolis who don’t have basic items that they were supposed to have received when they were resettled, such as beds and couches. Is there a continuing influx of secondary migrants from other states or is the resettlement agency in Indianapolis not giving refugees these basic items? Now, Storehouse Ministries, a group created to help needy families with everything from furniture to clothing to hygiene items, has stepped in to help. An article at the Daily Reporter (Greenfield, Indi. – near Indianapolis) explains the refugees’ needs:
WHITELAND, Ind. — Inside the headquarters of Storehouse Ministries, men, women and children rushed through the open warehouse with their lists in hand.
They had 15 minutes to pick out the items they needed. Some went to the furniture, inspecting gently used couches or small desks where their children could do their homework.
Others picked through bins of soap, shampoo, razors and deodorant. A few started picking up jackets and sweaters before winter set in...
Storehouse Ministries was created to help needy families with everything from furniture to clothing to hygiene items. Organizers focused on the items that government assistance and local food pantries don’t provide — mattresses, toothbrushes, diapers, blankets…
Most of the ministry’s clients have come from the Chin refugee community, Mills said. Organizers had contacted pastors from throughout the south side. When the Storehouse opened, pastors and members within the group flooded it…
Teri Shehorn, a member at Grace Assembly of God, was drawn to this idea of a new way of helping people. She volunteers regularly to sort donations, helps guide families through the warehouse and bags up their goods when they’re done shopping…
“A lot of people are really benefiting by getting things like couches and mattresses. You’d be surprised how many people are sleeping on the floor, without the ability to buy any kind of bedding,” Shehorn said…
“It’s so important for people who have to start over. Maybe they had a fire, or they’ve just come to this country. They wouldn’t have a place to sleep otherwise,” Helke said… Read more here
Posted in beds, Catholic Charities Indianapolis, Chin, furnishings, lack of, Indianapolis | Tagged: beds, Burma, Chin, furnishings, Indianapolis, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement, Storehouse Ministries | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 2, 2012
Over the past nine years refugee resettlement has increased 800 percent in Erie, Penn. An article at Erie Times-News gives the numbers:
About 3,527 refugees have arrived in Erie since 2003, said Charlotte Fry, refugee program adviser at the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, in an e-mail. The yearly influx of refugees into Erie has increased by nearly 800 percent since 2003, according to Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program data…
Erie, with its low cost of living and easily navigable downtown, proves an ideal destination for refugees, said Paul Jericho, director of refugee services of the Multicultural Community Resource Center.
The city is home to two refugee resettlement agencies, Catholic Charities and the International Institute of Erie, and numerous nonprofit organizations that provide additional support...Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Erie, Erie, International Institute of Erie | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 29, 2012
According to a blurb in the Catholic Culture publication in 2011 The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB) received 92.5% of its budget from federal grants and contracts. Apparently the person writing the piece does not understand that the refugee travel loan fees also derive from the federal government, meaning that USSCB actually gets 97.7% of its budget from the federal government (refugee resettlement contractors may keep 25% of the travel loan money that the US government requires refugees to pay back for their travel to the US). The USSCB is the largest refugee resettlement contractor in the US and resettled 14,285 people–25% of refugees entering the United States in 2011. Strangely, the highly touted “private sector” contribution factor of the “public-private cooperation” management style of the resettlement program derives mainly from federal government oversight agencies such as the US Department of State. Catholic Culture has the numbers:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services has published its 2011 annual report.
According to the report, over 92.5% of Migration and Refugee Services’ $72.1 million budget came from federal grants and contracts, while under $25,000 came from private donations.
Nearly 80% of expenses were allotted to diocesan programs and direct assistance to refugees and other clients. In 2011, Migration and Refugee Services resettled 14,285 people–25% of refugees entering the United States… Read more here
source: Migration and Refugee Services: 2011 annual report (USCCB)
Posted in Catholic, faith-based, funding, public/private partnership, State Department, Travel Loan Program, USCCB | Tagged: federal contracts, federal grants, Migration and Refugee Services, refugees, resettlement, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on August 26, 2012
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada’s refugee medical screenings do not appear to conform to federal standards by having community health nurses conduct the screenings. ORR guidelines state that the refugee medical “screenings should be performed by a qualified licensed health care professional.” ORR requires either a physician, a physician’s assistant, or a nurse practitioner. An a article at the Nevada Policy Research Institute examines the issue:
LAS VEGAS — Refugees from around the world come to Southern Nevada, often from countries with diseases not commonly seen in the native U.S.-born population.
How sound is the medical screening refugees receive? Are they getting adequate medical care?…
Because the refugees often come “from regions of the world with high rates of certain diseases,” notes the federal agency, “refugees face special health challenges.” They thus must first undergo medical screening overseas to ensure they are medically eligible for the U.S. Refugee Program. Then, after arriving in the U.S., they are directed to undergo more in-depth medical examination.
One purpose of the U.S.-based screening, says ORR, is to protect the public health of U.S. citizens. A second purpose is to “provide refugees with a level of health and well-being required for and supportive of successful resettlement in the U.S.”
Since 1994, ORR’s partner in Nevada for refugee services has been Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada (CCSN). For fiscal year 2010-11, the nonprofit administered some $6.7 million in federal refugee funds. CCSN not only serves as ORR’s designated State Refugee Coordinator, but also operates the local refugee resettlement office.
The Southern Nevada Health District, under contract to Catholic Charities since at least 2008, conducts the federally required medical screenings for the refugees — including their health histories and physical examinations.
The refugee medical screenings conducted by SNHD over the last five years, however, do not appear to conform to federal standards.
ORR guidelines state that the refugee medical “screenings should be performed by a qualified licensed health care professional.” And by such a professional, ORR means — as demonstrated through ORR’s use of federal billing codes — either a physician, a physician’s assistant, or a nurse practitioner.
SNHD’s contracts with Catholic Charities, however, only state that the district will have “a Community Health Nurse” do “a complete history and physical” on refugees.
All of the district’s community health nurses are registered nurses (RNs), according to the Nevada State Board of Nursing, and none are nurse practitioners (NPs), also called, in Nevada, advanced nursing practitioners (ANPs).
The health district’s use of RNs for such work would also appear to violate the Nevada Administrative Code’s regulations governing nurse practice…
The difficulty with such screening by RNs, notes James D. Hook, director of healthcare consulting at the Fox Group, LLC, is that recognizing whether some patient’s condition actually is abnormal may at times require a greater level of medical expertise than even a typically competent RN would have… Read more here
Posted in Catholic, Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, Cuban, Eritrean, Ethiopian, health, Iraqi, late health screenings, Nepali Bhutanese, Nevada, ORR | Tagged: Antonio Serru Paez, Bonnie Sorenson, Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, CCSN, health screening, medical screenings, refugees, resettlement, Southern Nevada Health District, state refugee coordinator | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 22, 2012
Teachers in the Omaha school district’s English as a Second Language Teen Literacy Center have their hands full trying to teach refugee teens lessons in the alphabet, vowels and consonants, and figurative and literal meaning. They also have to teach skills such as completing homework, accepting the word “no” and dealing with embarrassment. They also teach them to take notes and write five-paragraph essays with main and supporting ideas. Then there is adding and subtracting by 20s, multiply and divide by 12s, science and constitutional amendments. But, lessons in personal hygiene and dental health? Driving students to the hospital for immunizations? Visiting students’ homes to tell families the difference between the stove and refrigerator and that canned goods go in the pantry, cheese in the fridge? It seems like teachers are having to fill in for work not done by resettlement workers. An article in the Omaha World Herald covers the topic:
The bulletin board in a classroom on the fourth floor of the [Omaha Public Schools] headquarters succinctly describes this tiny school for the district’s newest at-risk teenage students.
Vertical cutouts of student photographs — southeast Asian boys with punk rock haircuts or African girls in modest, colorful Muslim wear — form words proclaiming: “WE R THE TLC.”
That’s shorthand for English as a Second Language Teen Literacy Center.
This is ground zero in OPS for newcomer non-English speakers with little formal education who are 13 to 21. Younger students generally enter their schools’ ESL programs. The TLC serves as a crucial bridge for these older students...
The public has a stake in this. A government survey of refugees resettled between 2004 and 2008 showed a correlation: The better the refugees’ command of English, the better their employment and earning potential, and the less likely they were to rely on welfare.
“It is critical that we do things right with the first generation so that we don’t have long-term societal problems,” said Susan Mayberger, who heads up the district’s $17 million program for ESL and migrant students, which includes about $370,000 for the school-year TLC...
Teaching the core subjects is a big enough challenge, but teachers can’t help but get pulled into other aspects of their students’ lives.
“They need so much,” said Scurlock, who is in her ninth year at TLC. “They need academics … job skills … counseling.”
But the teachers aren’t trained social workers and are frustrated by how helpless they feel.
There is little time to call state welfare offices, navigate labyrinthine public assistance programs or deal with red tape. Yet how can they not step in?
Math teacher Diana Saunders drove a student to Douglas County Hospital for immunizations. Language teacher Jackie Leet drove two students and their parents to a summer jobs program and sat with them through all the training.
Scurlock was a birth coach when a former student, pregnant and divorced and alone, needed someone.
Rodricks, the reading teacher, bought students clothes at Target. Married to a chef, she helped get one student a restaurant job as a cook.
Teachers keep bins of used clothes and shoes at the school to give away. The newest students usually have only one or two outfits, said Stratman, and are always in need of winter clothes.
They give spontaneous lessons in personal hygiene and dental health. They have to explain to every newcomer from Myanmar or Thailand that flip-flops won’t work in an Omaha winter. They visit students’ homes and tell families the difference between the stove and refrigerator and that canned goods go in the pantry, cheese in the fridge…
“We’re like surrogate parents,” Leet said. “Our connection with them is really important.”… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities (Omaha), education, insufficient assistance with daily tasks, language, Lutheran Family Services (Omaha), Omaha, schools, Southern Sudan Community Association (Omaha), teenagers | Tagged: catholic charities, Lutheran Family Services, Omaha, refugees, resettlement, Southern Sudan Community Association, teens | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 18, 2012
The Anchorage-based catholic resettlement contractor Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services will no accept refugee families of more than six because it’s too difficult to find them apartments. In fact, affordable rental housing availability has been at a crisis level in the city for years. An article in the Anchorage Daily News covers the issue:
Finding rental housing for a low-income family in Anchorage is hard. If you’re part of a family of more than four people, it can be nearly impossible.
The availability of affordable rental housing has been at a crisis level here for years, said Rhoda Myers, who works with Catholic Social Services’ program for homeless families.
The situation is harshest for large families who face monthly rents comparable to mortgage payments and fierce competition for the few units available, say social service providers, economists and would-be renters.
“It’s very, very difficult to find an affordable apartment that is three bedrooms or more,” Myers said. “The cost just skyrockets.”
The consequences are overburdened shelters, and families who spend almost all of their money on rent or hopscotch between shelters and motels…
…Part of the problem is that there aren’t many three- or four-bedroom rental units in Anchorage and developers have little financial incentive to build more of them.
“There just isn’t the stock,” said Daniel Delfino, a planner with the Alaska Housing Finance Corp.
Karen Ferguson, the head of Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services, another Catholic Social Services program, said it has gotten so bad that her agency stopped accepting families of more than six because it’s too difficult to find them apartments. Refugees, who arrive in the country with no assets and live on a limited budget while trying to gain language skills and employment, put housing problems in stark relief, Ferguson said… Read more here
Posted in Alaska, housing, Refugee Assistance & Immigration Services -- RAIS (Anchorage) | Tagged: affordable housing, Anchorage, RAIS, Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services, refugees, rental housing, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 17, 2012
What I don’t understand about some refugee resettlement agencies is how they can be out of touch with problems that refugees are having. Right now refugees in Cleveland have been under siege for several months by bedbugs, yet the agency that is sounding the alarm is not one of the local refugee resettlement agencies (International Services Center, Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, and US Together), but rather an after-school kids program. I suspect this one of the problems that the State Department’s Assistant Secretary didn’t hear about on her recent visit to the city. Cleveland’s ABC News Channel-5 has the details about the infestation:
CLEVELAND – Jamu Koue is a Liberian refugee, who is trying to raise five grandchildren in Cleveland. But an outbreak of bed bugs in her apartment complex has made it especially difficult.
Koue speaks very little English, and has been receiving support from Soul Fuel of Cleveland, an after-school program dedicated toward helping families integrate into life in the United States.
Soul Fuel Program coordinator Becky Trout has witnessed the severe bed bug bites on the grandchildren, and contacted NewsChannel5′s Troubleshooter Unit in search of help.
“I was really upset to find out about it, especially since it’s been going on for so long,” said Trout. “The children have been sleeping outside, and they have a lot of bites on the them and they itch.”
Trout said the owner of the West 65th Street apartment building needs to do more to solve the problem. Kapa Nyonee, 11, explained what she and the other grandchildren have been dealing with for the past several months.
“We don’t even sleep at night. Every second we close our eyes, or turn off the light, there’s going to be something biting at you. When we turn the light back on, we find a bed bug with a lot of blood in it.” …Read more here
Posted in Ann Richard, bed bugs, Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services (Cleveland), children, Cleveland, International Services Center (Cleveland), Liberian, US Together | Tagged: bedbugs, Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, Cleveland, International Services Center, refugees, resettlement, US Together | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 15, 2012
***UPDATE*** — July 21, 2012 — San Antonio Express News readers take in refugee family
A Congolese refugee woman and her seven kids have found themselves on the precipice of eviction ten months after resettlement in San Antonio. She claims assistance from Catholic Charities, Archdioceses of San Antonio Inc. was spotty at best and didn’t address the special hurdles she faces. In the past ten months a caseworker from the agency met with her only once in person to discuss job prospects, and took her to apply for one cleaning job. Yet, recently she got a hotel housekeeping job — through a refugee friend. An article at the San Antonio Express-News has more:
[Leonia Espe] and her seven surviving children escaped [her village in east Congo]…
…Four years later, they were resettled to the United States, landing last September in a shabby, three-bedroom flat on the city’s North Side under the auspices of Catholic Charities, Archdioceses of San Antonio Inc.
As is policy, Espe received pocket cash and rental assistance for up to six months. The agency gives $1,125 per family member; smaller families get less.
She was able to pay her rent through April and is now two months in arrears. A judge decided on Thursday that the apartment can evict her and her children, in five days.
Espe, whose youngest child is 4, suffers from peptic ulcers and a heart condition and speaks little English.
She wasn’t able to find a job during the six months an agency caseworker was assigned to work one on one with her, assistance that was spotty at best and didn’t address the special hurdles she faces, she claims…
…Pamela Raines, director of development for Catholic Charities, said the record shows Espe attended five weeks of job-training classes, something the client denies. (The refugee staff was at a conference and couldn’t be contacted, said Raines.)
Espe said she did take some of the agency’s English classes but had to miss often because of sickness, her own or one of her children’s.
Raines said the agency had “consistent contact” with Espe during the six months of direct help and that she didn’t show up for several employment-related appointments, something Espe also denies.
According to Raines’ record and Espe’s memory, a caseworker met with her only once in person to discuss job prospects in late spring or early summer. Faida, 17, the eldest daughter, said the same caseworker took her to a local office building to apply for a cleaning job.
“But that was two months ago and no one has called,” she said. “It feels scary. I don’t have any hope.”
Akhahenda said he and Espe paid a visit to her case manager in early June, after she had received her second notice of past-due rent from the apartment.
“He said to me, ‘Don’t worry, we won’t let her be evicted,’” Akhahenda recalled. “He said they would find her alternative housing.”
Then he didn’t hear anything more, he said…
Recently Espe got a job through a refugee friend…A hotel housekeeping job… Read more here
Posted in Catholic, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio Inc., children, Congolese, employment services, homelessness, housing, housing, substandard, San Antonio | Tagged: catholic charities, Congolese, employment services, eviction, refugees, resettlement, San Antonio | 3 Comments »