About Us

Our mission is to foster growth, integration, and self-sufficiency by providing financial, technical, and professional support to refugees and the agencies that serve them in the State of Tennessee.

Who We Are

Tennessee Office for Refugees is a department of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, designated and funded by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to administer the state refugee resettlement program.

Through contracted services, technical assistance, and administrative support, the Tennessee Office for Refugees partners with refugee resettlement agencies, clinics, and other agencies that provide direct services to refugees, Asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, victims of trafficking, Amerasians, and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders who make Tennessee their home.

We have helped thousands of displaced persons feel at home in Tennessee. As these new arrivals begin to rebuild their lives here in our state, they have the same goals as any other Tennessean: creating a home, enjoying life, and achieving dreams. The circumstances that led them to leave their home country may differ from person to person, but all need a new place to start again.

Services

The main function of refugee services in Tennessee is to promote integration and early self-sufficiency. Learn more about the services we administer.

Case Management

All Tennessee Office for Refugees funded programs have a case management component intended to facilitate the holistic provision of services, ensuring each refugee receives coordinated and effective interventions designed to meet each specific situation.

Elders

The Refugee Elders Program focuses on assisting refugees aged 60 and above with case management tailored to their particular needs and connecting them with community resources to support independent living, health and well-being, and civic engagement. Learn more about the Refugee Elders Program, funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, on their site About Services to Older Refugees.

Employment

Obtaining employment is the primary goal for most refugees. To that end, the Tennessee Office for Refugees funds the Refugee Support Services program (RSS) to assist refugees in finding suitable employment. These services are intended not only to assist the individual in obtaining employment, but also to improve their understanding of the process of finding and keeping a job. Services include an orientation to employer expectations in the United States, resume building skills, coaching prior to an interview, transportation to and from interviews, and follow-up with both the employer and the new employee. Learn more about RSS, funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, on their site About Refugee Support Services.

English Language Instruction

The Tennessee Office for Refugees funds English language instruction programs to help refugees to improve their ability to read, write, and speak English. English proficiency is an essential aspect of integration. Being able to converse comfortably increases employment opportunities, one’s ability to access community resources, and participation in everyday activities easily with one’s neighbors. English Language Instruction is conducted by Tennessee Language Center and World Relief Memphis.

Health

Medical Screenings

All refugees receive a comprehensive medical exam prior to coming to the United States, domestic medical screenings are also provided to refugees and all other eligible clients upon their arrival. Domestic medical screenings include physical exams, testing for communicable diseases, treatment of and linkage to continuing care for chronic conditions, basic mental health evaluations, and all necessary vaccinations. Medical screenings in Tennessee are conducted by Cherokee Health Systems in Chattanooga and Knoxville, Christ Community Health Center in Memphis, and Siloam Health in Nashville.

Refugee Health Promotion

The Tennessee Office for Refugees partners with Bridge Refugee Services in Knoxville and Chattanooga, Siloam Health in Nashville, and World Relief in Memphis to administer the Refugee Health Promotion program (RHP). Grants are awarded to provide partners with tools to equip clients with:

  • Demonstrated understanding of self-management skills among through receipt of medical/mental health navigation and support by client wellness advocate (CWA);
  • Increased health literacy and ability to make informed health decisions through receipt of culturally and linguistically appropriate health education lessons through classes or targeted outreach; and
  • Improved well-being and social connectedness; shared strategies for self-directed well-being through participation in culturally and linguistically appropriate adjustment groups, skill building networks, and peer support meetings.
Refugee Cash Assistance

The Tennessee Office for Refugees provides Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) to all eligible clients for up to eight months after their arrival in the United States. RCA serves as financial support for refugees not eligible for other federal cash assistance, helping them meet their basic needs for the months following their arrival or until their income exceeds 150% of the federal poverty level. Cash assistance is issued to clients each month in an amount determined both by the number of individuals in the client’s case and by current income and resources. All employable adults receiving RCA must also be actively participating in an employment program.

Youth and Schools

School Impact

Recognizing the importance of education, the Tennessee Office for Refugees funds activities that lead to the effective integration and education of refugee children through the Refugee School Impact Grant (RSIG). Through this program, parents and students participate in orientations to the American school system, and teachers and school administrators attend training sessions about refugee populations and expectations. RSIG funding provides for a school liaison as a resource for schools and parents. In addition, RSIG funds after-school and summer academic programming and activities. Learn More about the Refugee School Impact Grant, funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, on their site About School Impact.

Youth Mentoring

The Refugee Youth Mentoring Program promotes positive civic and social engagement, supports individual educational and vocational achievement, and supports individual educational and vocational advancement by connecting refugee youth with supportive members of their community. The program focuses on matching refugee youth aged 15 to 24 with adult mentors to develop and further educational and career goals.

Wilson-Fish TANF Coordination Program

The Wilson Fish-TANF Coordination Program (WF TCP) provides statewide supportive services that facilitate and enhance access to TANF and ORR funded benefits and services for TANF eligible refugees. These services help refugees obtain the resources and life skills to become self-sufficient and achieve sustained social and economic wellbeing through coordination with the Tennessee state and county TANF offices. The program is funded by a four-year grant awarded by the Office for Refugee Resettlement in 2021.