DWD: Additional $350,000 Made Available for

Rose Lynch, 608-266-6753

Governor Jim Doyle today announced an additional $350,000 in funds has been made available to develop and implement a comprehensive orientation curriculum for Hmong and Bantu refugees that have recently arrived in Wisconsin. The funding will be used to enhance social and economic stability; and community integration of the recently arrived Hmong refugees from Wat Tham Krabok, Thailand and the Bantu refugees from Somalia.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) will distribute $350,000 in federal funds to 7 regional providers charged with assisting the new refugees to settle in local communities. The regional providers have developed strategies to help the refugee families achieve economic self-sufficiency as soon as possible after their arrival, and to promote their long-term social stability and community integration.

“My Administration continues to work to ease the transition for Hmong immigrants,” Governor Doyle said. “We are a nation of immigrants, and the welcoming response from communities across our state in preparation for Hmong refugees is heartening. This new funding will help our efforts to provide services to Hmong immigrants in their language as they adjust to life in their communities and in Wisconsin.”

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin advocated for these federal funds. “We welcome these hard-working refugees to Wisconsin and want to provide them with the resources they need to better assimilate into local communities. I am happy to be able to bring this much-needed federal funding to Wisconsin.”

The orientation curriculum being developed, in the refugees’ native languages, will help the refugees become productive citizens in their new communities and become familiar with life in Western society. Bilingual, bicultural staff will provide the orientation to the refugees, which will include topics such as: working in the U.S.; education and school; health and the health care system; mental health; housing and home management; financial management; family law; child care, changing roles and responsibilities in the family; and, the U.S. legal system.

Awards are based on the proportion of refugees in the respective areas and will be distributed as follows:

Advocap will receive $69,761 to assist refugees in Brown, Fond du Lac, Outagamie, Winnebago and Calumet counties;
Hmong Mutual Assistance Association of Sheboygan will receive $40,939 – for Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties;
Lao Family Community of Milwaukee will receive $69,761;
MARC will receive $49,843 to assist refugees in Milwaukee, Washington, Jefferson and Waukesha counties;
La Crosse Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association receives $39,378 to serve La Crosse, Dunn, Eau Claire and Chippewa counties;
Wausau Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association will receive $57,002 to serve Marathon, Portage and Wood counties; and
United Refugee Services to receive $23,315 to serve Dane county.

The success of Wisconsin agencies in serving Hmong refugees is well documented. The median household income of Hmong in Wisconsin is $36,000, compared to a national average of $31,000; more than half of the families own their own homes and over 90% are employed.

In July 2004, Governor Doyle appointed a Hmong Task Force to oversee the resettlement of up to 3,600 Hmong refugees who have been living in a compound in Thailand for many years. With the announcement of the Task Force, the Governor also cited his commitment to ensuring that adequate funding be brought to Wisconsin to assist with resettlement efforts.

The Task Force recently completed its work on recommendations on how to better serve the Hmong refugees. Chief among those recommendations was providing adequate orientation for the refugees on life in Western society. The full Task Force report and recommendations can be found in their final report on the department’s website at http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/hrtf/default.htm.