Office of Maine Refugee Services
Established in March 2017, the Office of Maine Refugee Services (OMRS) is a department of Catholic Charities Maine. OMRS is designated by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to administer Maine’s refugee resettlement program. OMRS awards and manages refugee service grant programs through several organizations across the state including Maine’s only refugee resettlement agency Catholic Charities Maine Refugee and Immigration Services (RIS), local adult education agencies, school districts, medical providers, and other community organizations.
Overall, the following ORR-funded programs are administered through OMRS:
- As a part of the Refugee Support Services program, refugees within their first five years of arrival are eligible to receive employability services and other services that address barriers to employment. Some examples include employment case management, employability assessment services, job orientation, job development, referral to job opportunities, job placement, and job placement follow-up services. Employability services are delivered through several partners throughout the state, including RIS and others.
- English language instruction is also available for refugees with an emphasis on English as it relates to obtaining and retaining employment. Classes are available for both beginners and intermediate learners. English language instruction is administered by Portland Adult Education, Lewiston Adult Education, and Augusta Adult Education.
- The Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) program helps refugees by providing financial assistance to refugees during their first eight months after arrival. RCA is available for refugees who are not eligible to receive TANF and who fall within the State of Maine’s TANF income eligibility standards. The RCA program is administered through RIS.
- The Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) program provides medical assistance to refugees during their first eight months of arrival. RMA is available for refugees who are not eligible for MaineCare. RMA mirrors MaineCare benefits, and eligibility is determined by staff at RIS. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants administers the RMA program in Maine.
- Refugees who are within their first 90 days of arrival are eligible to receive services through the Medical Screening Program which includes a comprehensive health exam delivered through OMRS-contracted providers. Clients are also educated on US health systems and receive a medical transportation orientation. The Medical Screening program is coordinated through RIS.
- The Refugee School Impact Grant provides funding for activities that leads to the effective integration and education of newly arrived refugee children. With the help of this program, public school departments provide supplemental support to children, assist parents in understanding the Maine’s educational procedures and standards, and provide professional development to school staff. Currently five school departments have been awarded Refugee School Impact Grant funding: Augusta, Biddeford, Lewiston, Portland, and Westbrook.
- The Youth Mentoring Program matches refugee youth between the ages of 15 and 24 with mentors who will support successful integration, promote positive civic and social engagement, and support educational and career development. Eligible youth must be within the first five years of their arrival. Gateway Community Services administers the Youth Mentoring program in Maine.
- The purpose of the Services to Older Refugees Program (SOR) is to increase integration and independent healthy living for refugees of age 60 or more. The SOR program is coordinated through RIS.
- Health Literacy Workshops are available for recent arrivals and focus on topics such as cancer treatment, maintaining healthy homes, mental health, etc. This program is subcontracted through RIS to partners in the community and includes ethnic community-based organizations and other non-profits.
- The Community Health Worker Program provides individual-level follow up for new arrivals with latent tuberculosis. This program is delivered through RIS in coordination with the B Street Health Center in Lewiston, Maine and Maine Access Immigrant Network.
- State Refugee Advisory Council meetings are held quarterly and are jointly hosted by OMRS and RIS. The meetings help ensure the coordination of services for refugees and raises awareness on issues that affect refugee communities throughout state of Maine. Refugee service providers are welcome to share information on program challenges, trends, and new initiatives.
Individuals with the following immigration statuses are eligible for ORR-funded services:
- Cuban and Haitian entrants;
- Certain Amerasians from Vietnam;
- Victims of a severe form of trafficking who receive certification or eligibility letters from USCIS and certain other specified family members of trafficking victims;
- Children classified as Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs) receiving services from ORR-funded Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) programs; and
- Iraqi and Afghan with a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV).