Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller this week addressed participants at the third annual Refugee Health Consultation at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg’s Diocesan Center. The conference brought together service providers from across the commonwealth to discuss mental and physical health needs, challenges often experienced by refugees, resources available for refugee service providers, and how providers can better serve refugee populations they work with and help them through the transitions of resettlement.
“When a person decides to leave their home country – even as it is afflicted with persecution, war, famine, or other unlivable conditions – they make an immense personal sacrifice that takes incredible courage,” said Secretary Miller. “The services you provide and the support you give to new Pennsylvanians embodies the values that we seek to spread at DHS – service that is compassionate, addresses the whole person’s health and social needs, and puts them on a path towards self-sufficiency and a better life.”
Hosted by DHS’ Refugee Resettlement Program, the one-day conference was led by national and international experts specializing in refugee health to address the physical and emotional well-being of refugees, enhance cultural competency, expand physical and behavioral health care access, and improve partnerships and outreach to support the sustainability of refugee health services.
“Many of you are among the first relationships a person will establish as they begin to settle into Pennsylvania,” said Secretary Miller. “The discussion, collaboration, and ideas that come from this conference will make a difference for new Pennsylvanians as they acclimate to their new home.”
The Refugee Resettlement Program, or RRP, is funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide high quality employment and case management services to refugees that are resettled in Pennsylvania. RRP was created in response to the Federal Refugee Act of 1980 with the goal of assisting refugees as they acclimate to their new homes, become economically self-sufficient, utilize and transition off public assistance, and integrate into their new communities.
The program partners closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, community health systems, and resettlement agencies to help meet the needs of new Pennsylvanians.
Over the last five years, the RRP has assisted approximately 8,000 refugees from all over the world, but most notably Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia, Syria, and Ukraine.
All refugees served by the Department of Human Services’ Refugee Health Program are permanent legal residents of the United States who have been admitted with the approval of the executive branch of the federal government. Refugees are eligible for citizenship five years after arrival.
For more information on the Refugee Resettlement Program, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.