Information and resources about the Refugee Program, with the goal to assist refugees in their quest for economic self-sufficiency and successful integration
The New Hampshire Refugee Program (NHRP) operates under the New Hampshire Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs. The primary goal of the Refugee Program is to assist refugees in their quest for economic self-sufficiency and successful integration. The NHRP is funded through the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Refugee Program staff work closely with the two New Hampshire voluntary resettlement agencies (volags), Ascentria Care Alliance and the International Institute of New Hampshire, as well as other area partners to support refugee integration.
These nonprofit voluntary resettlement agencies (volags) receive US Department of State, Bureau of Population and Migration funding and agree to resettle a number of refugees at the start of the fiscal year based on their capacity to provide services for new arrivals and the number of refugees coming into the U.S. Additional money is provided to states by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide self-sufficiency services. These services include:
- Case Management: Resettlement agencies facilitate and coordinate a variety of services including housing, healthcare, referrals and general support services as refugees transition into their communities.
- Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA): Funds are designed to assist refugees during their 8 month, initial resettlement period. All refugees are entitled to Refugee Medical Assistance for their first eight months in the US. To be eligible for RCA, however, a refugee must be ineligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other cash support programs.
- English as a Second Language: voluntary agencies collectively provide over 90 hours a week in English Language Training. Other public and private organizations provide additional ESOL in communities throughout New Hampshire. Classes are designed to help refugees achieve competencies in key linguistic areas, preparing them to meet their everyday language needs at work and in community life.
- Employment Services: These include an assessment of vocational skills, job development, job placement and follow up services with local employers. The hard work of refugee employment counselors has made New Hampshire a model state for refugee resettlement. Refugees often find full-time employment within the first two or three months of arrival.
- Preventive Health: The primary goal of the Preventive Health Program is to prevent and control problems of public health significance among incoming refugees, with emphasis on those health problems that may create barriers to self-sufficiency. The program ensures that refugees have access to health education, case management and interpreter services.
- School Impact: This program targets school-aged refugees to support successful integration and academic achievement. The contractors also work closely with refugee parents and school personnel to discuss/resolve issues relevant to children's school performance. The program provides a multitude of services that include leadership development, counseling, academic support, after school activities, parent training and cultural competency training for school personnel.
- Services for Older Refugees: Older Refugees are often isolated from the mainstream community. The goal of the Services for Older Refugees program is to help older refugees access services available to mainstream older citizens. Contractors work with senior centers to develop culturally appropriate activities and improve cultural competence. Contractors also provide individualized case management to older refugees to resolve barriers to well-being, such as health access, transportation and housing issues. Finally, the project assists older refugees prepare for and achieve citizenship.
Who are Refugees?
Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their home countries because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Persecution could be physical violence, harassment and wrongful arrest, or threats to their lives. They take with them only what they can carry, only what they have time to pack. Sometimes all they have left are their dreams, their hopes and the will to survive.
Since the early-1980s more than 7,500 refugees have made New Hampshire their home. Refugees have greatly contributed to our state and local communities. Through their hard work, they have strengthened our economy and their presence has enriched the cultural diversity of New Hampshire.
Refugees come to New Hampshire from more than 30 nations and represent a diverse group of ethnic minorities. For the most part, refugees adjust well to New Hampshire life. They frequently find employment within the first few months of arrival and actively participate in their respective communities. Refugees are eligible to start the naturalization process within five years after arrival.
Many of New Hampshire's refugees live in Manchester, Concord, Nashua, and Laconia.
How Can You Help?
The most valuable way to help a refugee family in your community is to be a friend. Your welcome and friendship can go a long way in helping them feel at home.
Invite some refugees to your class or to a community meeting to share their experiences. Listen to what they went through before coming to New Hampshire. Find out what their lives were like before they became refugees and what they dream of today.
Contact the refugee resettlement agency in your area if you would like to make a donation or help in the resettlement efforts of a refugee family.
Know who the refugees are in your community.
If interested in volunteering, please contact Sandi Cotter at Ascentria Care Alliance at (603) 224-8111.