Through contracted services, technical assistance, and administrative support, Tennessee Office for Refugees partners with refugee resettlement agencies, mutual assistance associations (MAAs), and other agencies that provide direct services to refugees, Asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants, victims of trafficking, Amerasians and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders who make Tennessee their home.
TOR administers refugee cash and medical assistance programs, and subcontracts with funded partners to coordinate initial medical screenings, provide employment and case management services, English language training, preventive health services, and support refugee integration into local school systems. Learn more about those services in the sections below.
TOR funds English language training programs in order for refugees to improve their ability to read, write, and speak in English so that they might increase their employment opportunities and better adjust to life in the US.
All TOR 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.
For those refugees who experience significant barriers to self-sufficiency, TOR funds an Intensive Case Management (ICM) program. ICM may be an appropriate approach for refugees who are single parents or have a disability, for example.
ICM is available for up to one year after the date of arrival.
Recognizing the importance of education, TOR 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 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, TOR funds a variety of programs whose aim is to assist refugees in finding suitable employment.
The Refugee Social Services program (RSS) includes employment services. 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 orientation to employer expectations in the US, resume building skills, coaching prior to an interview, transportation to and from the interview, 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 Social Services.
In Tennessee, Targeted Assistance funding provides employment services for hard-to-serve refugees including refugee young adults, refugee women, refugees with health conditions or disabilities that impede their access to the labor market, refugee professionals, and others whose needs cannot be met by RSS. Formula Targeted Assistance Grant/Program (TAG) funds are disbursed by ORR to states on a county basis relative to refugee arrivals. Davidson County is the only county in Tennessee that receives Formula TAG funds. The Targeted Assistance Discretionary Grant (TAG-D) provides for employment services in counties not served by the formula grant, including Shelby and Rutherford counties. Although most services funded by TOR are restricted by the length of time the client has been in the US, TAG-D funds may be used to serve any eligible client as long as they are not yet US citizens.
Learn more about TAG and TAG-D, funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, on their site About Targeted Assistance.
Cuban Haitian Entrants
The Cuban/Haitian Program provides employment and related services specifically designed for the unique needs of Cuban and Haitian entrants and refugees. Funding is awarded on a formula basis relative to the size of the population.
Learn more about the Cuban/Haitian Entrant program, funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, on their site, About Cuban Haitian.
TOR 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 2016, refugees were completely self-sufficient, on average, within six months of their arrival in the US.
The Refugee Elders Program focuses on assisting refugees aged 60 and above with case management tailored to their particular needs and linking 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.
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 in the US. 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 Medical Assistance
Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) is federally-funded short term medical insurance provided to refugees who are ineligible for TennCare/Medicaid. Refugees are eligible for this coverage for up to eight months after their arrival in the United States. In Tennessee, RMA is provided through Point Comfort Underwriters.
For the period of October 2016 through September 2017, 74% of our clients secured employment with medical benefits available. We encourage our partners to intentionally seek jobs with medical benefits so that our clients have the peace of mind that comes from having medical coverage for themselves and their family. We are proud that the majority of our clients have been able to achieve this.
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.