Individuals we serve come from more than 22 different countries and speak more than 15 different languages and dialects. Recognizing their unique needs, Fedcap Serving Maine provides a variety of services and supports and partners with numerous community organizations for refugees and immigrants throughout Maine.
Fedcap’s ASPIRE program helps Maine’s TANF clients acquire employment-related skills, experiences and resources to become self-sufficient and achieve sustained social and economic well-being. Refugees and immigrants face specific barriers that make it more difficult for them to fully engage in ASPIRE services. These barriers include language, culture, unfamiliarity with “systems” (government, housing, transportation, schools, banking, obtaining culturally appropriate food). Further, they may lack a back-up network of family and friends to rely on when unexpected issues (school, health, childcare) occur.
The purpose of the federally-funded GEAR project is to provide relevant, customized, culturally and linguistically appropriate services to address the unmet needs of eligible refugee clients. GEAR will complement, and not duplicate, the work of ASPIRE, to promote better participation in ASPIRE activities. Staff include the GEAR project manager and two GEAR Specialists. Specialists will be located at Fedcap offices 2-3 days a week to assure close coordination.
The primary focus is in rapidly growing refugee communities with low availability of supportive services, such as Biddeford/Saco and greater Augusta. The program is required to make in-person and remote services available statewide and may serve refugees and immigrants in other parts of Maine.
Eligibility requirements for this project are two-fold: participants must (1) meet specific definitions established by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and (2) be TANF-eligible.
Each ORR-eligible individual must meet the following criteria:
1. Provide documentation that they fall within these categories: Refugee; Asylee; Cuban or Haitian Entrant, Alien admitted into the US as a Vietnamese Amerasian immigrant; Victim of Human Trafficking; or Special Immigrant Visa Holder from Iraq and Afghanistan.
2. Refugees and immigrants who have been in the US for not more than 36 months at the date of enrollment (land date/status grant date) with the focus on families with children who have been in the US for less than 12 months at the time of enrollment (land date/status grant date).
3. The individual must be 16 years of age or older and must not be a full-time student in elementary or secondary school (with certain exceptions).
The GEAR Project Manager will focus on outreach and education to strengthen local supportive services, and the willingness/ability of employers to hire and support refugees and immigrants. GEAR will not duplicate or substitute services.
In partnership with Fedcap Employment Specialists, GEAR Specialists will provide individualized support to refugee clients to complement services provided by Fedcap. The examples of services offered include but are not limited to:
* Conduct intake/interview with clients in order to develop customized individual employment plan and Family Self-Sufficiency Plans
* Determine suitability for employment, conduct thorough work/education history assessment and counsel in securing employment
* Assess client’s obstacles in cultural adjustment and long-term integration