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DHS News June 2011

pdf.gif June 2011 DHS Newsletter

DHS receives award for work with refugee population

On June 29, at the Pennsylvania State Refugee Resettlement Annual Consultation, DHS was awarded with the Excellence in Service Award for its work to meet the needs of the refugee population in Allegheny County.

“Refugees are special populations with special needs and deserve special attention,” said Yinka Aganga-Williams, executive director for Acculturation for Justice, Access and Peace Outreach (AJAPO), one of three refugee service providers in Allegheny County.

Aganga-Williams, who nominated DHS for the award, says DHS has shown that it is more than dedicated to meeting the special needs of refugees.

“AJAPO’s observation is that DHS is an agency that is committed to providing high-quality services that are culturally competent, accessible and demonstrate respect for individuals, their goals and preferences,” Aganga-Williams said.

Aganga-Williams noted several examples of the DHS commitment to serving refugee populations including:

  • The formation of the Advisory Council for Immigrants and Internationals.
  • The creation of a special “desk” headed by two senior staff to allow for transparent and prompt access to services like housing, aging services and employment programs that often assist refugees.
  • Aid in developing sub-committee groups within the Advisory Council for Immigrants and Internationals.
  • Funding for the three refugee service providers in Allegheny County (Catholic Charities, AJAPO and Jewish Children and Family Services).
  • Cultural Competency training for DHS staff based off the recommendations of the Advisory Council for Immigrants and Internationals.
  • Pro-active planning to seek funding streams for future youth development services.
  • Linking of refugee service providers to other agencies such as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC).

Aganga-Williams also noted that DHS applies its guiding principles not only to residents but to the County’s immigrant and international communities.

“The DHS philosophy towards consumers is to respect diversity within the community and understand that consumers from other cultures are unique and should be served in a dignified manner,” said Aganga-Williams. “DHS has shown excellence in service in recognizing the needs of the refugee populations in the county and taking firm steps to provide them with needed services.”

More information about immigrant and internationals resources

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