What We Do


Tennessee Office for Refugees is a department of Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc. designated by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to administer the state refugee resettlement program.

Through contracted services, technical assistance, and administrative support, the Tennessee Office for Refugees partners with refugee resettlement agencies, mutual assistance associations (MAAs), and other agencies that provide direct services to refugees, Asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, victims of trafficking, Amerasians, and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders who make Tennessee their home.

Funded by the Office for Refugee Resettlement, the Tennessee Office for Refugees administers refugee cash and medical assistance programs; subcontracts with funded partners to coordinate initial medical screenings, provide employment and case management services, English language instruction, and preventive health services; and supports refugee integration into local school systems. Learn more about these services in the sections below.

English Language Instruction

The Tennessee Office for Refugees funds English language instruction programs to help refugees to improve their ability to read, write, and speak English so that they might increase their employment opportunities and better adjust to life in the United States.

Case Management

All Tennessee Office for Refugees funded programs have a case management component intended to facilitate the holistic provision of services, ensuring each refugee receives coordinated and effective interventions designed to meet each specific situation.

Youth and Schools

Recognizing the importance of education, the Tennessee Office for Refugees funds activities that lead to the effective integration and education of refugee children through the Refugee School Impact Grant (RSIG). Through this program parents and students participate in orientations to the American school system, and teachers and school administrators attend training sessions about refugee populations and expectations. RSIG funding provides for a school liaison as a resource for schools and parents. In addition, RSIG funds after-school and summer academic programming and activities. Learn More about the Refugee School Impact Grant, funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, on their site About School Impact.

The Youth Mentoring Program promotes positive civic and social engagement, supports individual educational and vocational achievement, and supports individual educational and vocational advancement by connecting refugee youth with supportive members of their community. The program focuses on matching refugee youth aged 15 to 24 with adult mentors to develop and further educational and career goals.


The main function of refugee services in Tennessee is to promote integration and self-sufficiency. As such, obtaining employment is the primary goal for most refugees. To that end, the Tennessee Office for Refugees funds the Refugee Support Services program (RSS) to assist refugees in finding suitable employment. These services are intended not only to assist the individual in obtaining employment, but also to improve his or her understanding of the process of finding and keeping a job. Services include an orientation to employer expectations in the United States, resume building skills, coaching prior to an interview, transportation to and from interviews, and follow-up with both the employer and the new employee.

Learn more about RSS, funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, on their site About Refugee Support Services.

Refugee Cash Assistance

The Tennessee Office for Refugees provides Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) to all eligible clients for up to eight months after their arrival in the United States. RCA serves as financial support for refugees not eligible for other federal cash assistance, helping them meet their basic needs for the months following their arrival or until their income exceeds 150% of the federal poverty level. Cash assistance is issued to clients each month in an amount determined both by the number of individuals in the client’s case and by current income and resources.

All employable adults receiving RCA must also be actively participating in an employment program. The purpose of all refugee programs is to encourage self-sufficiency as quickly as possible. In federal fiscal year 2018, refugees were completely self-sufficient, on average, within six months of their arrival in the United States.

Refugee Elders

The Refugee Elders Program focuses on assisting refugees aged 60 and above with case management tailored to their particular needs and connecting them with community resources to support independent living, health and well-being, and civic engagement.

Learn more about the Refugee Elders Program, funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, on their site About Services to Older Refugees.

Medical Screenings

While all refugees receive a comprehensive medical exam prior to coming to the United States, initial medical screenings are also provided to refugees and all other eligible clients upon their arrival. Screenings include physical exams, testing for communicable diseases, treatment of and linkage to continuing care for chronic conditions, basic mental health evaluation, and all necessary vaccinations. Medical screenings in Tennessee are coordinated by Siloam Health and conducted by Siloam Health in Nashville, Christ Community Health Center in Memphis, and Cherokee Health Systems in Chattanooga and Knoxville.

Refugee Health Promotion

The Tennessee Office for Refugees partners with Bridge Refugee Services in Knoxville and Chattanooga, Siloam Health in Nashville, and World Relief in Memphis to enact the Refugee Health Promotion program (RHP). Clients enrolled in RHP received intensive medical case management to help them reach their health goals. RHP also provides training to doctors, clinics, health departments, and medical professionals as needed. Some partners also conduct peer support groups to contribute to the resiliency and integration of newly arrived refugees.

Learn more about this program on the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Health Promotion site.