PRERNA provides a continuum of essential services, mentoring support and follow-up care to refugees and their families in the Counties of Santa Clara and Alameda, California. Refugees are individuals who are unable to return to their country of origin because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. All refugees accepted into the U.S. receive permanent legal resident status through due process and have legal status for employment shortly after arrival.
Ninety-five percent of the refugees we currently serve are families with at least one child under the age of 18. Children account for 60 percent of those we help.
Once PRERNA receives a referral, our first step is meet refugee families upon arrival in the U.S. Sometimes, that means picking them up at the airport. We begin our care by providing “new family arrival kits” which include basic essentials and then transport them safely to transitional housing.
One of our volunteer Family Ambassadors conducts a thorough intake and assessment of the family’s needs and goals, and together they establish a custom plan of care. Milestones and timelines are also established regarding housing, healthcare, education, English language acquisition and employment. Any special needs and infant care are also addressed along with financial and/or legal concerns.
During the first two to three weeks, PRERNA Family Ambassadors give new refugees a broad orientation about living in the U.S. Essential items such as a temporary supply of food and household products are also provided to start their resettlement process. Key activities in the initial transition phase include assisting the families with:
- Setting up social services for cash aid, EBT, food assistance and medical care
- Applying for Social Security identification cards and completing legal forms for resident status
- Starting bank accounts and learning basic financial essentials
Other immediate needs addressed may include transitional housing, basic communications (cell phones and computers), childcare, school enrollment for children, referrals and transportation to medical appointments and mental health services, access to English language classes, legal support, interpreter services, healthy cooking, hygiene education and job search preparation.
Family Ambassadors work closely with PRERNA’s team leaders and their respective volunteers to ensure every family receives assistance and services in all areas of life management. After the initial transition phase, Family Ambassadors meet with refugee families on a weekly basis for case management and care coordination. Refugees have access to PRERNA’s services from a minimum of six months to five years.
Programs are categorized into four main areas to achieve our success criteria.
1. Early Essentials: Provide “new family arrival kits”, basic communications setup, housing and supplies for both transitional and permanent living for the family
2. Educational Pathway: Focus on education development for all refugee children, youth and adults so they can become literate and competent in the community
3. Employment Success: Embody all aspects of employment, build career pathways through job training and education, and transition from entry-level jobs to professional careers
4. Cultural Assimilation: Empower refugees to learn, adapt and integrate with the way of life in their new country, while celebrating and nurturing their homeland culture and roots
As a family embarks on their path towards independence, their needs evolve. Some will learn to drive a car while others will seek higher education and apply to a college or university. All employed families will file their U.S. taxes for the first time.
Over a span of time, every family’s needs change as they become more self-sufficient and finally develop confidence in their new country. Our wish is that many of the successful refugees living here will volunteer at PRERNA and “pay it forward” by helping newer refugee families resettle in the U.S. - just like they did.
That’s our CIRCLE of SUCCESS.