By Anna Ashcraft
The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) has been around since 1919, helping the people of Erie and individuals in other areas across the country become acquainted to life in America. The International Institute of Erie (IIE) is a local field office of the USCRI. Erie has been welcoming refugees and immigrants for many years now. The IIE provides a wide range of programs the help successfully adapt immigrants and refugees to life in the United States. They provide interpretation in over thirty languages, as well as offer childcare, health, education, job support and community support services.
Recently a large influx of New Americans have been coming in to America, in part by political turmoil and war; America has responded by implementing the New American Plan and the Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program.
The Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The program provides employment and educational opportunities, case management, and health and financial support services to new refugees in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The White House Task Force on New Americans was implemented on November 21, 2014. It was established solely for “better integrating immigrants and refugees into American communities,” the White House New Americans project have listed on their website.
The task force has many campaigns that have been implemented since the program began in 2014. The Building Welcoming Communities Campaign (BWCC) helps integrate individuals into communities and neighborhoods. The Stand Stronger Citizenship Awareness Campaign helps lawful permanent residents apply for citizenship. Presidential Ambassadors for Citizenship and Naturalization uses stories to promote naturalization, integration initiatives, and help to increase awareness of contributions made by New Americans, with about 150 welcoming communities AmeriCorps sent to nearly 100 communities.
The IIE helps with a number of different things that come up when moving to a different country. They help with childcare, provide meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), prepare new homes, and welcome new comers. They also provide foundations through education, jobs, and health and community support. The IIE provides interpreters in over thirty languages.
The IIE has services that include opportunities for employment, financial literacy, English as a second language (ESL) and orientation programs.
The Child Care facilities they work with are state licensed and include Child Care, Day Care, Preschool, Nursery School, Pre-K and Kindergarten. They also offer summer care, summer camp, and special needs care.
You can find Child Care hours and information on Care.com. They list the childcare hours from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday.
Small World Child Care is a state licensed facility that serves clients of the IIE as well as the local community. “Our facility provides quality child care to children regardless of cultural diverse natures, disabilities or special needs,” as stated on the website Momtrusted.com. It is a full time and part time childcare facility. Languages spoken at the facility include Arabic, Bosnian (Serbo Croat), English, Russian, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese.
“Our mission is to provide the type of early childhood education that is vital to future academic success.” Small World Child Care adheres to the PA Early Learning Standards. The facility accepts children ages 3 weeks to 15 years. They are also trained in special needs with resources to administer an asthma nebulizer treatment, work with people who have asthma auditory impairment, behavioral/emotional issues, cognitive dysfunction/delay, gifted ability, infant monitors (Apnea), speech/language delay and special diets.
Get Connected Erie is nonprofit organization that is part of the United Way of Erie County. “It may be hard to believe but millions of people spend decades in refugee camps, unable to return home. Resettlement in another country is often the only way refugees…have a chance to rebuild their lives,” the website stated.
The IIE and its affiliates help individuals and families rebuild their lives, and often start from scratch. “From the moment refugees arrive at the airport, USCRI is there to guide them toward becoming self-sufficient, contributing members of their new community.”
The resettlement programs the IIE help address basic and immediate needs of families and individuals such as knowledge of public transportation, enrolling children in school, finding a doctor, learning English and obtaining employment.
They also help build support systems for overcoming past trauma and grief. Refugees are expected to become self sufficient within the first year of their arrival in the United States. They help refugees achieve self-sufficiency by helping them learn how to manage money, understand credit, train for a new career, or re-establish professional credentials in the United States.
The IIE is here to support individuals and families and is available for anyone in need. They also have an abundance of resources available to the public. They are located at 517 E. 26th street Erie, PA 16504 and they can be reached at (814)-452-3935.