Strengthening Portland’s Immigrant and Refugee Families

by | Sep 10, 2020 | Refugees & Immigrants

A substantial new grant from the City of Portland will help us strengthen the lives of more immigrant and refugee children and their families.

LCS Northwest recently received a 3-year $736,347 grant from the City of Portland’s Children’s Levy. These funds will help us expand our Parenting in Portland (PIP) program. PIP is designed to improve parenting and enhance child protective factors while celebrating the strengths and cultural traditions of participating families.

“We work with the entire family on prevention and early interventions,” said Assefash Melles, our Preferred Communities Intensive Case Management Program Manager. “We strengthen the family while building resiliency. We provide therapeutic support to children and families to address their trauma.”

More specifically, we work with immigrant and refugee families by:

  • Increasing parenting skills, relationships and knowledge through parent education.
  • Enhancing protective factors through group-based parenting and cultural orientation support.
  • Offering one-on-one child and family mentoring to increase social supports.

“We walk alongside refugee and immigrant families on their journey and empower them to fulfill their dreams,” Assefash said.

Refugee and immigrant families often deal with past trauma and great stress. Families are at high risk for abuse because of unresolved trauma from war, displacement and resettlement. PIP is a new program that already has a waiting list. The new grant will help us work with 35 parents each year.  Assefash recently hired two new case managers for PIP.

The healing process begins with honoring each family’s culture. Assefash said an early meeting, prior to COVID-19, may have been having a meal together, and listening to the family’s story. Families are asked to set their own aspirational goals. The work is practical, as the team identifies family strengths, and builds on them. There is a focus on rebuilding parenting skills that have been negatively impacted by trauma.

“We are respectful,” Assefash said. “We strive to be culturally appropriate. We honor and call on our shared ancestral wisdom which sustained us all over time.”

Our key allies are refugees we have worked with in the past, who are now stepping up to share healing stories and stand in gaps for their peers.  “We Shall Overcome,” is a recurring theme in conversations.

Another partner in the family stabilization process is the Refugee Care Collective, which provides mentors for each family, to promote bi-directional learning experiences.  These relationships continue after our stabilization work is done.  A new partnership is emerging with Faithful Friends that will focus on families with children age six to nine.

“It really does take a village to raise children,” Assefash said.