Welcoming refugees to the United States
When refugees arrive in the United States, CWS staff members are there to greet them at the airport and make sure they feel comfortable in their new homes. In a refugee’s first months in the U.S., CWS is there to help them navigate their local communities. CWS provides each family with a dedicated caseworker, who can assist a family with their unique and particular needs. Affiliates help to provide basic needs like housing, furniture, clothing, food and medical appointments, but they also work to provide refugees with the tools for improving their potential. This involves English as a second language and school registration, job and cultural orientation and skills training. With the help of local congregations and volunteers, these programs welcome over 7,000 refugees each year.
How we work with refugees
Building a home
Before a refugee arrives in the U.S., CWS staff begin preparing for their arrival. We help to find affordable housing and furnish the apartment with all the essentials for all sizes and types of families. More than finding a physical home for a family, we also work to help newly arrived refugees navigate their local communities, from learning to use public transport to understanding how to shop and create a budget.
Photo: Kate Roberts
Often refugees are coming from an environment where employment was either prohibited or extremely hard to find. Finding their first job can be the fulfillment of a dream a refugee has held for years. Providing for their families and being able to support themselves is more than a paycheck, it is a step on the road to rebuilding their lives and recognizing their own courage. CWS caseworkers work with each arriving refugee to find employment and improve their own skills through various training programs.
Photo: Luis Ortiz
Going to school
In many refugee camps and urban locations, schooling is not an option for children, let alone continuing education for adults. When refugees arrive in the U.S., CWS helps parents enroll their children in school. We also work with families to make sure they have the supplies and support to make education a priority for both their children and for them as adults through English and vocational training.
Photo: Christ Community United Methodist Church
Cultural Orientation begins when refugees are still overseas waiting to come to the U.S., but it continues from the second they arrive at the airport. Through formal sessions and personal interaction with CWS caseworkers and volunteers, our approach to cultural orientation helps to start refugees on the road to becoming integrated into the fabric of their new communities.
Photo: Nancy Farese