How Refugee Charity Organizations Work

Office of Refugee Resettlement

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human services that funds state-administered programs to help refugees assimilate to life in the U.S. Through its five divisions and 20-plus programs, ORR provides services to cover all areas of life, from health care and job training to education, foster care and counseling for torture survivors [source: ORR].

The office provides cash reimbursement to states to cover 100 percent of refugee medical screening and health care for up to eight months from the date of a refugee's arrival in the U.S. or final grant of asylum.

It also funds programs that place refugee children unaccompanied by adults into foster care sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. The refugee children receive the same state benefits as other foster children, with additional programs aimed to preserve their cultural heritage. When possible, they are placed with families of the same ethnic background [source: ORR].

Another area ORR supports is state services to help new refugees get jobs within a year of arrival, including interpretation and translation services, childcare and literacy classes. It also provides funding to state school districts particularly impacted by an influx of refugee students to help pay for ESL classes, tutoring and after-school activities.

For the elderly, ORR funds state programs to help refugees aged 60 and older qualify for senior citizen benefits like social security. It also provides grants to programs that help refugees start their own businesses and to programs that match savings accounts for low-income refugees [source: ORR].

Keep reading to find out how you can help refugees at home or abroad.