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RSI Resources

We hope you find these resources useful. We have worked to provide you with resources specific to RSI outcomes.

Resources include print, media, and web-based materials.


Refugee School Impact Grant Products

The following are products that have been developed by the Refugee School Impact in Washington State.

An Orientation Resource to Support Youth with School and Cultural Adjustment (PDF) – This is intended to help educators and program providers orientate students to the U.S. school system and support their cultural adjustment, offering multiple resources for each topic area.

A Resource Toolkit that Helps Newcomer Parents Navigate the U.S. School System (PDF) – This toolkit is intended to help educators and providers orientate and equip families with information to navigate the school system and to increase school integration and engagement. The toolkit offers multiple resources for each topic area, along with tips and suggestions for designing and implementing family orientations.

Starting Again: Stories of Refugee Youth – School’s Out Washington partnered with documentary filmmaker Jill Freidberg of Corrugated Films to produce Starting Again: Stories of Refugee Youth, a film chronicling the lives of refugee youth in Washington State. The film highlights four youth from Bhutan, Burma, Russia, and Somalia.

Memories and Dreams Manual (PDF) – Memories and Dreams, created by Merit Partners for Refugee School Impact, is a manual aimed at helping refugee students and their families bridge the gap between past and present. At the same time, this manual is geared to help students fulfill two of their Washington State graduation requirements: the Culminating Project and the High School and Beyond Plan. It is a process-oriented manual, meant to help form connections with the past, present, and future.

Cultural Profiles (PDF) – These cultural profiles were created by the Non-Profit Assistance Center for Refugee School Impact. The purpose of these 19 refugee profiles are to inform and educate readers regarding the culture, history, geo-political context, situation of displacement and common education/literacy levels of refugees from each country. The purpose of this project is to document common experiences based on the country of origin.

Parent Handbook (PDF) – This colorful handbook for parents and students of Tukwila School District was created by the IRC Seattle. With clear pictures, fun graphics and simple text, this handbook aims to welcome families into Tukwila School District while conveying the rules for students and the expectations for families. This book is a great example of a welcome process for your school!

English Language Learners and Language of Mathematics Manual (PDF) – This manual, developed by the Committee on the Language of Mathematics for ELLS and funded by the Refugee School Impact Program, compares the language of mathematics to that of informal English and then dives into the ways in which ELL students acquire English as their second language. This manual is designed to introduce teachers to the ways in which they can facilitate the learning process for their ELLs through pronunciation and translation of mathematical statements.

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Against All Odds (UNHCR Geneva, Switzerland: UNHCR, 2004) – An interactive online game created to increase students’ awareness and knowledge about refugee situations by putting players in the position of a refugee. Against All Odds takes players on a journey ultimately towards asylum, but also touches on issues of understanding and intuition in different environments.

Faces and Voices of Refugee Youth: A Curriculum Guide for Secondary School Teachers and Counselors (Salt Lake Education Foundation, 2002) – From forty interviews with Utah’s newest and youngest refugees, this curriculum guide was developed to address the unique needs of refugee students while enhancing the learning of all students in their classrooms.

Kids Like Me: Voices of the Immigrant Experience (Book authored by Judith M. Blohm and Terri Lapinsky, 2006) – As the number of refugee and immigrant students in our classrooms grows, the diversity and variety in our classrooms grow as well. In Kids Like Me: Voices of the Immigrant Experience, there are 26 personal stories of refugee and immigrant students who are making a home in a new place. Kids Like Me also includes discussion questions, self-directed activities and research ideas for teachers and program staff.

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Cultural Profiles and Case Studies

Background Notes – These publications include facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and foreign relations of independent states, some dependencies, and areas of special sovereignty. The Background Notes are updated and revised by the Office of Electronic Information and Publications of the Bureau of Public Affairs as they are received from the Department's regional bureaus.

Backgrounders – The Cultural Orientation Resource Center backgrounders provide key information about new refugee groups for U.S. resettlement workers. Backgrounders include sections on the need for resettlement of the group to the United States, cultural attributes of the group, resettlement considerations, as well as a one page statistical summary.

BRYCS Refugee Populations – Resource pages linking to various articles and materials addressing refugee populations for Bhutanese, Burmese, Burundians, Haitians, Iraqis and Somalis.

Center for Applied Linguistics: Cultural Profiles - The purpose of these cultural profiles is to provide background information on the target populations and to discuss the ways in which these cultures and history might impact their resettlement in the United States. These great resources include language information, difficulties expected for new arrivals, service provider specific tips and much more.

CIA World Factbook – ‘Provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military and transnational issues for 267 world entities.'

Cultural Profiles from SOWA – This resource by the Nonprofit Assistance Center for School’s Out Washington and ORIA provides materials around background and resettlement for refugees from Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, Somali Bantu, Sudan, Former USSR, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Moldova, and the Ukraine.

Refugee Populations–The COR Center develops and hosts numerous resources designed to inform community members and service providers about a variety of refugee populations. The development of these resources is based upon input from refugees themselves, scholars, and service providers.These resources are arranged by refugee population. We strongly recommend that you view the videos posted here, showing refugees from particular ethnic or age groups speaking about their own experiences with resettlement.

Ethnomed – Cultural profiles with focus on health needs for Cambodian, Chin, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Hmong, Iraqi, Karen, Nepali-speaking Bhutanese, Oromo, Somali, Somali Bantu.

The Karen people: culture, faith and history – Detailed information about the Karen people of Burma, their culture, and implications for resettlement.

International Rescue Committee Children and Youth Backgrounders – ‘This resource is for teachers who have refugee students in their classes. The packet provides teachers with an introduction to refugees in the United States, background information on students’ home countries, tips for engaging youth and parents, and web resources concerning education, language, and culture’ – description from BRYCS.

Includes Backgrounders for Burmese Karen, Congolese, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Liberian, Meskhetian Turks, Somali Bantu and Sudanese Dinka.

Includes Web Resources for education, psychosocial, resettlement, Burmese Karen, D.R. Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Meskhetian Turks, Somali Bantu, and Sudan.

Understanding Your Refugee and Immigrant Students: An Educational, Cultural and Linguistic Guide (Jeffra Flaitz, 2006) - Each of the 18 country profiles in this book feature statistics about the country, a historical synopsis, an overview of the county's official education policy, cultural perspectives, and a problem-solution section containing classroom strategies. Also included is information about teacher-student relationships, linguistic systems, discipline and class management, and appropriate non-verbal communication.

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ELL Students and Language Training

Illinois Resource Center E-kit - The Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Resource Center have collaborated to create a locally and nationally relevant knowledge base in the area of educating linguistically and culturally diverse students. The E-kit is an electronic resource that is designed to help teachers and administrators provide effective, efficient, and pedagogically sound instruction for the English language learners in your school.

National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition and Language Instruction Educational Programs - OELA's National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition & Language Instruction Educational Programs (NCELA) collects, analyzes, synthesizes and disseminates information about language instruction educational programs for English language learners and related programs. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement & Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (OELA) under Title III of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001.

Refugee Children with Low Literacy Skills or Interrupted Education

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Newcomer Centers & Resources

A Guide to Your Children’s Schools: A Parent Handbook - This guide to Illinois schools for newcomer parents can be downloaded in various languages: Arabic, Bosnian, Russian, Vietnamese, and Spanish. This is a great model for programs wanting to build their own parent orientation handbook.

Educational Handbook for Refugee Parents

This handbook by the IRC covers an overview of the school system and is not district specific. Topics include Parents’ Educational Rights and Responsibilities, US School System, School Calendar and School Days, School Procedures, Parent Participation, School Rules and Discipline, Preparing for College. Available in English, Burmese, French, Somali and Spanish.

Helping Newcomer students succeed in secondary schools and beyond

How to Support Refugee Students in the ELL Classroom – This extensive guide from Colorín Colorado (2008) addresses the challenges faced by refugee students, provides strategies for supporting refugee students, and links the reader to a myriad of refugee serving programs and websites through the United States.

Partnering with Parents and Families to Support Immigrant and Refugee Children at School – This brief looks at different programs which seek to engage and support families of immigrant and refugee students, specifically around the issue of mental health. They look at different approaches to supporting families in their mental health needs from offering school-based mental health services to different approaches and strategies for partnering.

Immigrant/Refugee Awareness Instructional Materials – A listing of highlighted resources from BRYCS (Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services) aimed at welcoming and orienting newcomer students to U.S. schools.

Raising Children in a New Country: A Toolkit for Working with Newcomer Parents and An Illustrated Handbook This BRYCS Toolkit brings together these culturally responsive parenting resources in order to make them more easily accessible to agencies working with refugees. The toolkit provides an overview of how to support and educate refugee families, a list of parenting resources for refugee serving agencies and organizations, and resources and tools for program development. Available in the School’s Out Washington Library.

School's In for Refugees: Whole-School Guide to Refugee Readiness – Produced by The Victorian Foundation for Survivor's of Torture, Inc., School’s In for Refugees is a resource "to support schools in recognising and responding to the needs of their refugee students. It provides advice on how schools can identify refugee students and understand the impact of their experiences. It highlights the importance of creating a school setting which is welcoming and inclusive of parents of refugee students and the students themselves. It suggests policies and practices which a school might adopt in creating such a setting, and curriculum which supports the learning of refugee and other students."

Strengthening Services for Refugee Parents: Guidelines and Resources – Put together by Bridging Refugee Youth & Children's Services (BRYCS), this manual is focused "on providing parenting services to refugee families, although some of the issues and resources discussed are also relevant to immigrants who are not refugees as well. It is address to everyone who has an interest in helping newcomer families build satisfying and productive lives in the United States."

Tukwila School District Parent Handbook – With funding from the Refugee School Impact Grant and in collaboration with Tukwila School District, International Rescue Committee Seattle created this handbook with photos and illustrations to orient newcomer families to their local schools. Available in targeted refugee languages.

Welcoming and Orienting Newcomer Students to US SchoolsBridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) has produced an in-depth look into the importance of successful school adjustment for both newcomer refugee students and their families. As with all BRYCS materials, this document provides an extensive list of resources for supporting all the refugee students you might work with.

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Online Resource Centers

BRYCS: Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services - Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) is a national technical assistance program addressing challenges which refugee youth and children face in adjusting to life in the United States. Their fundamental purpose is to broaden the scope of information and increase collaboration among service providers for refugee youth, children and families.

Cultural Orientation Resource (COR) Center - Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the COR Center supports overseas cultural orientation (CO) trainers in a variety of ways. For refugee service providers in the United States, the COR Center publishes culture profiles or backgrounders on newly arriving refugee groups, provides the Welcome to the United States guidebook, coordinates a two-week secondment of domestic resettlement professionals to observe CO and processing at various Overseas Processing Entities, and maintains the Cultural Orientation website. The COR Center also manages the Refugee Discussion listserv, a forum for the exchange of orientation information, ideas, and materials.

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Parenting and Family Strengthening

Ensuring the Academic Success of Our Children (Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition, 2001) - This resource is based on research that "confirms that when families are involved in their children’s education, children earn higher grades and receive higher scores on tests,attend school more regularly, complete more homework, demonstrate more positive attitudes and behaviors, graduate from high school at higher rates and are more likely to enroll in higher education than students with less involved families." A workbook to boost parent involvement.

Involving Immigrant and Refugee Families in their Children's Schools: Barriers, Challenges and Successful Strategies - This report, written in 2003 by the Adult Learner Resource Center and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, represents effective strategies to assist schools to reach out to refugee and other immigrant parents. It synthesizes the suggestions of the ISBE Parent Outreach Focus Group, a group of Illinois educational and social service agency practitioners who work with refugee and other immigrant group students and families. It is also based upon a survey of school and social service agency staff that used the handbook A Guide to Your Children's Schools in their interactions with immigrant and refugee families.

LEP Parent Involvement Project: A Guide for Connecting Immigrant Parents and Schools - The LEP Parent Involvement Project, produce by the Minnesota Department of Education, was developed to be used in various adult education settings such as ESL classes, community-based organizations and parent groups for the purposes of helping parents and caretakers with limited English see themselves as active participants in their children's learning.

Minnesota: You Can Help Your Child Videos – The state of Minnesota sells videos produced for newcomer parents. The two videos in this series are: “You Can Help Your Child in School” and “You Can Talk to Your Child’s School.” They are translated into English, Amharic, Arabic, Nuer, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Hmong.

Raising Children in a New Country: An Illustrated Handbook (2007 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC) – This booklet was created to help service providers ensure that newcomer parents have the basic information they need about U.S. laws and parenting practices. This booklet is targeted to newcomer parents with low levels of English proficiency and/or low literacy levels.

Talk’s In: Families of Refugee backgrounds and schools in dialogue – This resource offers a model for four workshops to facilitate dialogue between refugee families and schools. Based off the Australian system, these materials can be adapted and topics include the education system, rights and responsibilities, teaching and learning and supporting your child. It includes an overview of powerpoint slides used for the training and for presenting the topics to school personnel.

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Professional Development and Teacher Preparation

BRYCS School Toolkit – Brycs living document created in response to common questions posed by Refugee School Impact Grantees. Offers five tools addressing: the birthdates of refugee children and the impact on grade placement; schools and refugee-serving agencies, how to start or strengthen collaboration; refugee child welfare, guidance for schools; refugee and immigrant youth and bullying, faqs; federal requirements to provide interpretation/translation in the schools.

Children of War - Members of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, produced this film to bring the stories of refugee children to educators. Its purpose is to help educators better understand the refugee children in their classrooms and schools. Equipped with a study guide.

The New Americans - This movie traces the journeys of several immigrants and refugees in a profound and moving way. A group of filmmakers followed refugees and immigrants from Nigeria, Palestine, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and India as they made new homes in the United States. This resource includes lesson plans, community engagement materials, a discussion guide, and activity kit.

Students from refugee & displaced backgrounds – a handbook for schools – This handbook was developed by the Australian Queensland program of assistance to survivors of torture and trauma but carries a lot of good information which translates to teachers and professionals in the American school system to help understand refugee students and how to undergo a whole-of-school approach.

Teaching Refugees with Limited Formal Schooling – This Canadian resource page offers links to different topic areas around teaching refugees with limited formal schooling.

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Refugee Health

Cross Cultural Health Care Program (CCHCP) in Seattle, WA - Addresses the broad cultural issues that influence the health of individuals and families living in ethnic minority communities throughout the United States. The Seattle, Washington-based Cross Cultural Health Care Program (CCHCP), established in 1992, serves as a bridge between communities and health care institutions to ensure full access to culturally and linguistically appropriate quality health care. The Web site provides information on a number of CCHCP's programs, including cultural competency and interpreter training, community coalition-building activities, research projects, and other services.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network - National Child Traumatic Stress Network works to identify and develop interventions that are effective for addressing trauma in refugee children, youth, and their families.

Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center Providing technical assistance and support on refugee mental health for providers in the US.

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Refugee Youth

Beyond the Fire: Teen Experiences of War - This interactive website chronicles the stories of fifteen refugee teenagers, who lived through warfare and fled their homes in eight different countries. Their stories are complete with photographs of family and loved ones that bring their experiences of war to life. The website also provides a brief chronology of the events in each country to explain how the conflict developed. The stories of these fifteen refugee teenagers illustrate the types of experiences that refugee youth encounter abroad before being resettled.

Cultural Orientation for Children with Refugee Backgrounds – This resource from Catholic Community Services of Utah includes cultural orientation lessons intended for recently arrived children aged 8-14 from a refugee experience. Topics covered are; laws and safety; school rules and skills; social skills; money and numbers; emotional and mental health; claiming your culture; and family roles.

Growing Up in a New Country: A Positive Youth Development Toolkit for Working with Refugees and Immigrants - This “Toolkit” pulls together articles, resources and programs which can assist agencies in adopting a Positive Youth Development (PYD) approach to working with newcomer youth.

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Resources in Washington State

Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance – The Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance (within Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services) provides services and programs to help refugee and immigrant families and individuals succeed and thrive in Washington.

Lutheran Community Services Unaccompanied Minors Program – Lutheran Community Services serves children and youth from all over the world that come to the United States without families. These refugee children are placed in long-term foster care homes found through LCSNW’s partners.

WA State Office of the Education Ombudsman (OEO) – The OEO functions independently from the public school system and works to mediate conflicts and disputes between families and public schools in Washington State. In addition to advocacy for students and families, OEO provides several publications to help families know their rights and these are translated into seven target languages.

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