The Kentucky Office for Refugees serves in the capacity as the Kentucky State Refugee Coordinator’s office designated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement and provides leadership; policy guidance and advocacy on issues affecting the refugee resettlement network in Kentucky. The Kentucky Office for Refugees administrates and awards $6 million in Federal Funds annually from ORR, which includes refugee cash and medical assistance, formula and discretionary funding. Please explore the links below to learn more about the Kentucky Office for Refugees.
Kentucky Office for Refugees History
In 1980, the U.S. Congress passed The Refugee Act of 1980, which standardized the resettlement services for all refugees admitted to the U.S. and authorizes federal assistance for the resettlement of refugees. The Refugee Act provides the legal basis for The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families located in Washington DC. The Federal programs funded by ORR are normally managed by the state government systems in states where refugees reside. From 1980-1992, the Kentucky state government managed these ORR programs which included refugee cash and medical assistance and social service programs. Due to an ongoing fiscal crisis in the early 1990’s with US Congress, the Kentucky state government made the decision in 1992 to withdraw from managing the refugee cash and medical assistance programs and in 1994 withdrew from refugee social services.
If refugees were to continue to arrive into Kentucky after 1992 an organization had to be designated by ORR to manage these Federal programs within the state. The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) located in Washington DC had four affiliate programs in Kentucky at this time and met with the ORR to discuss the problem. USCCB/MRS in Washington DC was designated as the lead agency to manage these programs; creating an Alternative Wilson Fish Program. The local resettlement director for the USCCB/MRS program in Kentucky (Catholic Charities of Louisville) would also serve as the Kentucky state refugee coordinator. The state programs managed by a non profit are commonly referred to as Wilson Fish Programs. The purpose of the Wilson Fish program is to increase refugee prospects for early employment and self-sufficiency, promote coordination among voluntary resettlement agencies and service providers and ensure that refugee assistance programs exist in every State where refugees are resettled. The Wilson Fish program emphasizes early employment and economic self-sufficiency by integrating cash assistance, case management, and employment services and by incorporating innovative strategies for the provision of cash assistance. ORR currently funds twelve WF programs in the following eleven States: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, plus San Diego County, CA.
In June 2006 the Kentucky Office for Refugees (KOR) was created as a new department within Catholic Charities of Louisville, separate from the local resettlement department known as Migration and Refugee Services (MRS). KOR would focus solely on the administration of the state wide programs funded by ORR and the KOR director would serve in the role of state refugee coordinator. KOR manages approximately $6,000,000 each year in Federal Funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The Kentucky Office for Refugees in addition to administrating the refugee cash and medical assistance also awards funding to various service providers across the state including refugee resettlement agencies, school districts in Jefferson and Warren Counties, and assists the public health systems in Louisville Metro, Warren and Fayette Counties for preventative health services for refugee populations.
Employment Services and Performance Measures
Sources of Arrival
KOR Policies & Procedures Manual 2012 (17.4MB PDF)
Sub-recipient Agency Forms
Catholic Charities of Louisville, Inc.
Jewish Family and Vocational Services
Kentucky Refugee Ministries
Western Kentucky Mutual Assistance
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