Refugees are eligible for any social service and/or financial assistance programs available in the United States. However, due to language and cultural barriers, sometimes it is difficult for refugees to access such services. The agencies listed below (in alphabetical order) have experience working with refugees and their needs, but please don’t hesitate to refer your clients to specialized services elsewhere as well.
‘Refugee’ is a very specific immigration status. Not all immigrants to the United States are eligible for the same services that refugees are. If the clients you are working with have other types of immigration status or prefer Spanish language services, a good place to start is The Juan Diego Center. The Juan Diego Center provides food assistance, family enrichment, immigration legal assistance, the Latina Resource Center and micro-business training.
Benson Area Refugee Task Force
The Benson Area Refugee Task Force (BART) is a neighborhood-based collaboration of individuals, organizations, and houses of faith, founded to serve the refugee community. BART continually celebrates, educates, and advocates for the refugee community, empowering them to succeed in all aspect of daily life. BART strongly supports efforts against suppression of refugees and other vulnerable groups both locally and nationally.
- ESL, Citizenship, and Computer classes
- Clothing drives and distribution
Connections – Project Harmony
Connections is a program that helps children in kindergarten through eighth grade who are having problems in school, with peers, or at home. Connections works with parents, schools, and health care providers to access quality mental health services. Our goal is to offer help before a child is at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile court system or involved with a CPS worker. We help school professionals recognize students who could benefit from talking to a trained counselor that works with children. We also provide counseling classes/groups for students to work alongside other students and recognize that they are not alone. Our Connections team will identify potential barriers to access and actively work to resolve these barriers. If you are interested in this program, please ask to speak to your child’s school counselor or call 531.301.5079.
- Mental health support for K-8th grade youth and their families
Embrace the Nations
Embrace the Nations is a Christian non-profit organization that assists refugees in multiple areas of need and assists the public in better understanding and interacting with theses newer populations. This organization addresses the needs of cultural groups through physical, social, literary, and spiritual services.
- ESL and Life Skills classes
- Kid Groups
- VBS (Vacation Bible School) summer activities
- Special Events
Fair Housing Center of NE-IA
Refugees often face housing difficulties in their first few years in the U.S. Fair Housing Advisory Services can assist with issues of housing discrimination, unfair landlord charges and maintenance issues, home buying education, and more.
Heartland Family Service
Heartland Family Service provides strengthening care to individuals and families through education, counseling, and other support services. Heartland Family Service has four programs that work with refugees regularly; two are focused specifically on refugee populations:
- Refugee Juvenile Justice Advocacy (RJJA): The purpose of RJJA program is to assist refugee parents and their children to understand the process of the juvenile justice system and help them to complete requirements of diversion or probation. Brochure
- BabyTALK: The purpose of Baby TALK is to focus on parent-child bonding through play and social interaction in the community. Within the refugee population, we provide one on one home visits and group socializations for the Karen population. Brochure
- Positive Parenting Group (PPG): We offer parenting classes in Karen and Burmese languages twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, in conjunction with Omaha Public Schools’ Migrant Education program. Classes are held at OPS elementary schools with a large Karen population, typically Walnut Hill or Kennedy.
- Ready in 5 program: A school readiness program for preschool age refugee children and their parents. The program provides quality early childhood experiences for the families through in-home groups in refugee neighborhoods. We hold 17 in-home groups throughout North and Midtown Omaha. The program’s main focus is on empowering parents to act as their child’s first teacher. Families are also assisted with enrollment into Head Start, Pre-K, and kindergarten. The program is a collaboration with Heartland Family Service and the YMCA.
The Hunger Collaborative is a partnership among Heart Ministry Center, Heartland Hope Mission, Together and Food Bank for the Heartland. This collaboration formed as a commitment to fight hunger through collective impacts and shared resources. The Hunger Collaborative works with many community partners in a concerted effort to lift Omaha out of poverty through sustainable solutions to hunger.
- Free Halal meat available at Heart Ministry first Friday of every month 9:30am-1:00pm
- Soil To Sustenance educational classes
- Assistance applying for SNAP (food stamps)
- Social work, housing, and healthcare services available at certain Hunger Collaborative locations
Intercultural Senior Center
The Intercultural Senior Center service the senior immigrant and refugee community of Omaha, providing dignity, wellness, and the opportunity to for the elderly to share their talents wisdom with others. Their mission is to improve dignity, quality of life and physical well-being of seniors from around the world through advocacy, education, access to social services, and cultural enrichment activities that benefit the entire community.
- ESL and Citizenship classes
- Social Worker on-site
- Daily exercise
- Community garden
- Wellness checks, monitoring of chronic conditions, and foot care clinic
- Health education sessions
- Mental health support groups
Lutheran Family Services
Lutheran Family Services provides healthcare services centered around family and community life. They offer these services across Nebraska and the Council Bluffs Iowa area. The Lutheran Family Services Organization is vastly experienced in working with refugees providing, children services, community services, and behavioral health services to help meet the needs of the refugee community.
- Refugee Resettlement
- Immigration – Fees can be waived for low income families
- Employment Assistance
- International Center of the Heartland – Provides a single location for immigrants to find answers, guidance and expertise for their social service, legal, employment, and housing needs. Walk-in hours are Mondays from 9:00am-2:00pm. Culturally appropriate food pantry available.
- Global Language Solutions interpreter services
Nebraska Association of Translators and Interpreters
NATI exists to inform, train, and assist those involved in the translation and interpretation industries. NATI has a database of members who can be contacted for translators and interpreters.
Omaha Public Library
The Omaha Public Library is a wonderful resource for refugees and immigrants. In addition to their usual array of services, libraries have teamed up with The Literacy Center to offer ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and other support programs. The goals is to empower adults and families by assisting them acquire the literacy skills and practices need to be active members of their community.
Their website keeps the most up-to-date resource list of local ESL classes being offered around Omaha.
Omaha Public Schools (ESL, Refugee, and Migrant Programs)
The Omaha Public Schools English as a Second Language program responds to the needs of English language learners in an effort to provide optimal educational opportunities. The ESL program promotes a culturally responsive learning environment where students’ first language and cultural identity are nurtured.
- Yates ECP (brochure) supports refugee and immigrant adults in learning the skills that will help them be successful in their new community. Programming is open to all English Language Learning families and follows the OPS elementary school calendar. Classes include ESL, sewing, citizenship, and cultural orientations. Interpreters, community garden, and social worker on site.
- THRIVE is an after school leadership and community service club for refugee and immigrant youth at five area high schools.
- Migrant Education supports families working in the agricultural industry. Saturday school and July summer school are just two of the many benefits provided through this program.
Omaha Together One Community (OTOC)
OTOC seeks to recreate community and bring together society on all levels. OTOC is an education and advocacy group for immigrants and refugees in the Omaha metro area. Their focus is to bring light to problems and issues that refugees face in society today. They also provide education and leadership classes to teach people to become effective leaders, communicators, and builders of their own community.
- Advocacy and empowerment
- Institute for Public Leadership – The Institute for Public Leadership empowers diverse and emerging communities by developing leaders to act for justice and the common good. IPL is an affiliate of OTOC.
- Educating refugees on tenant-landlord relationships
- Career training through leadership and skill development classes
Provide training, information and support to Nebraska families with special needs children age 0-26 years. Children with disabilities will be prepared to lead productive, independent adult lives to the maximum extent possible.
- Special needs support
Ready in 5
Ready In 5 is an children’s education program is a partnership of the YMCA of Greater Omaha and Heartland Family Service. The program prepares refugee children and their families for the American school system. Their goal is set the refugee families up for success, by teaching refugee children basic cognitive concepts and social skills they will need to be successful in the Omaha public school system. The program creates a support system for refugees, introducing them to American people and culture, helping them build confidence and hope for refugees at they look forward to their future in America.
- In-home school readiness for refugee families with children ages 3-6
Refugee Empowerment Center
The Refugee Empowerment Center assists refugees who are transitioning from their own culture to American life. They focus on helping refugees live and work productively, further education, and achieve a better life for themselves and their families. They empower refugees to integrate into their news homes and obtain the skills necessary for self-sufficiency.
- Refugee Resettlement
- Employment Assistance
- ESL classes
Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)
ORR is the federal agency providing new populations with the opportunity to achieve their full potential in the United States.
Nebraska DHHS Refugee Resettlement Program
The Refugee Resettlement Program (RRP) helps newly arrived refugees and other eligible populations establish a new life and self-sufficiency following their arrival in the United States.