I was born and raised in South Jersey so this news from Catholic Charities interested me. But, it also serves as an opportunity for me to discuss something that I’ve found troubling of late.
For several years (RRW began in 2007) it was easy enough to find statistics on how many refugees and from what country were being placed in what towns and cities during a given time period. Those data bases are impossible to find now. Maybe not ‘impossible’ if one has enormous time to search, but I do believe the federal government is making it more challenging for citizens to find information on the numbers and nationalities of refugees being resettled in specific locations.
So, it was interesting to me to see what Catholic Charities is saying about the demographic/social/economic changes they are bringing to South Jersey.
We have so many new readers just starting out on their quest to figure out how refugee resettlement (aka placement) works. And, although we have been over this many times through the years, every day new people start their own investigations and of course never saw the story we might have posted in say 2008. So, first check our fact sheet by clicking here.
Then, here is a list (at ORR) of the resettlement officials in every state (it should mostly be up-to-date). The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is located in the US Dept. of Health and Human Services and after the initial resettlement paid for by the US State Department, it is ORR that doles out the additional cash to the contractors, who in turn funnel the money (your money) to subcontractors.
The first step (after reading our fact sheet) in your quest to figure out how the program works is to contact your state coordinators (on this list). Be pleasant and polite and ask for the data for your state—who is coming, who has come, how many, from where and most importantly what towns and cities have been chosen? And, don’t forget to find out which contractors they are using (then research the contractor and its finances).
We can’t emphasize enough that you must get your facts together.
Now for anyone, other than me, interested in South Jersey, here is Catholic Charities:
From January 2009 through September 2013, 760 Refugee Newcomers were resettled by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden’s Refugee Resettlement Program. At the time of their resettlement, the Refugee Newcomers joined South Jersey communities from twelve Countries of Origin: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Sudan, Vietnam.
In the last program year (October 2012 to September 2013), Refugee Newcomers from eight different countries were resettled in South Jersey. Refugees were placed in market-rate apartments and houses rented from private landlords in a variety of towns, based on the availability of safe, affordable housing and proximity to shopping, employment and public transportation. The towns are: Atlantic City, Audubon, Barnegat, Collingswood, Haddon Heights, Haddon Township, Moorestown, Oaklyn, Palmyra, Pleasantville, Sicklerville, Somerdale, Trenton, Turnersville, Wildwood Crest, Willingboro, Woodlynne.
Of the 110 refugees who arrived in the last year, 32 children were enrolled in nine local public school systems:
In April 2013, Catholic Charities was awarded the Refugee School Impact Grant to assist and increase the support to refugee students and families in being academically successful. [Note that the grant for school impact went to Catholic Charities not the school systems themselves.---ed] Catholic Charities’ Refugee School Based Family Support Specialist focused on the Somerdale and Oaklyn school districts, which had twenty-eight and twenty-two refugee students enrolled, respectively. This program worked in these schools one day per week and provided enrollment and support services to other students and schools as needed and continued into the 2013-2014 school year.
Catholic Charities continues to work in collaboration with social service and medical providers, school systems, landlords, employers, churches and volunteers to assist refugees in becoming self-sufficient. These partnerships have resulted in over 75% rate of employment for employable adults within the first three months of arrival in 2012 and 2013.*** Through employment and on-going programs, Refugee Newcomers have become stable, productive contributors to South Jersey.
*** Watch out for the employment data trick described in a post at Friends of Refugees in January. Blogger Chris Coen is a critic of resettlement contractors (as are we), but he comes at it from another angle.
Here is what Coen said in a critical post about a Tennessee resettlement contractor (Hat tip: Joanne):
A former case manager also sent us information about the agency and pointed out that the refugee employment figures are dishonest as most of the refuges have only temporary employment that does not help them to pay rent and be self-sufficient. The nature of the temp jobs also means that the refugees will be unemployed just a short time after the agency reports them employed to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at 90 days and 180 days. (This, however, is a problem throughout the refugee program, and it doesn’t seem that the the ORR has much of an interest in requiring that resettlement agencies report if refugees are working at temporary or non-temporary jobs.)
This post is archived in our ‘where to find information’ category, here.