Supporting refugee children with education and integration services
The Refugee School Impact Program is a supplemental program of Refugee Services that has been instrumental in raising awareness on the educational needs for refugee children in the U.S. Refugee youth often face academic setbacks, difficulties in language acquisition, social isolation/alienation, social adjustment with peers, grief and bereavement, discrimination, cultural misunderstanding and adjustment to a new educational system.
51%of all refugees resettled in the U.S. are school-aged children under the age of 18. One in five children in the U.S. is a refugee child.
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio has had the RSIP grant since Fall 2010 and has served well over 2000 children who resettled here to the United States in hope to have a better life.
What is RSIP?
The Refugee School Impact Program (RSIP) offers activities that lead to the effective integration and education of refugee children. The RSIP supports impacted school districts with services for refugee children. Students between five and 18 years of age participate in activities including: English as a Second Language instruction, after-school tutoring, activities encouraging high school completion and full participation in school activities, summer programs and club activities, parental involvement activities and interpreting services.
The RSIP bridges the gap between the school and refugee parents. The program works closely with school teachers and administration, representatives from the school districts and local community partners to ensure students are successful in and out of the classroom.
Through tutoring, relationships are built, a camaraderie is developed and trust is created. Students have a chance to make new friends, get help with school work, receive mentorship, advice, guidance and a safe place for learning.
Who is a refugee?
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.
- Refugee status: UN High Commissioner of Refugees determines if the individual qualifies as a refugee
- Referral to the U.S.: A refugee is referred to the U.S. for resettlement by the UN, US Embassy or NGO
- Security clearance process: A number of security checks by law enforcement and intelligence agencies
- In-person interview: A U.S. Homeland Security officer conducts a detailed interview face to face with all refugees.
- DHS Approval: If the U.S. Homeland Security officer finds the individual meets U.S. admissions criteria, the application is conditionally approved for resettlement
- Medical screening: The refugee that has been conditionally approved goes through a medical screening
- Matching with a sponsor agency: Every refugee is assigned to a U.S. partner agency like World Relief that will assist them upon arrival to the U.S.
- Cultural orientation: Refugees approved for resettlement are offered cultural orientation while waiting for final processing
- 2nd security clearance process: Prior to departure to the U.S. a second interagency security check is conducted to check for any new information
- Airport check: Refugees are checked again at the airport to ensure the arriving refugee is the same person who was screened and approved for admission
- Admission to the U.S.: upon arrival in the U.S., refugees are met by a resettlement agency representative
Screenings and clearances
The average duration of processing time before a refugee enters the U.S. is 18 months to three years
All refugee clients undergo a deep background check with biographic and biometric information being crossed with law enforcement and an intelligence database.