The Refugee & Immigrant Assistance Center (RIAC), formerly known as the Somali Women And Children’s Association, was founded in 1993. We are a community-based, non-profit, grassroots human service agency that provides comprehensive services to refugees, asylees, and immigrants as well as the larger community. Our services include refugee resettlement, counseling, outreach and education, and other social services.
RIAC’s mission is to promote cultural, educational, and socioeconomic development in the refugee and immigrant community. To realize our mission, RIAC offers the following range of services to support successful resettlement and to promote self-sufficiency.
Current programs include:
- Refugee Resettlement: More than 200 refugees from different countries including Somalia, Congo, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Bhutan are resettled annually by RIAC in greater Boston and Worcester.
- Social Services: Post Resettlement Services help individuals and families with referrals for services, assistance with benefits, social adjustment counseling, interpretation and extended case work. Outreach to youth is a priority. Staff is a resource to local providers in particular those working in the Boston Public Schools and Boston Police Department.
- Citizenship Services: Boston’s staff assists qualified individuals with the US naturalization application process. Tutors assist preparing individual to take the Naturalization test.
- Community Education: Events, forums, groups and individual counseling enable the Somali community and others to access critical information on a range of subjects. In addition, RIAC hosts a World Refugee Day event in Roxbury inviting families, individuals, city officials and advocates to join in the celebration.
- Community Counseling: Under the direction of the program’s psychiatrist, a team of licensed social workers provide individual and group counseling services. Case workers and Social Work graduate students assist providing case work and other support services to clients who are receiving counseling services.
- ESOL: Adult ESOL classes are held at RIAC’s Boston office. Volunteers teach these classes and also provide one-on-one tutoring. Worcester’s ESOL Navigator program assists individuals enroll in one of Worcester’s Adult ESOL programs’ classes.
- ESOL Navigator: The ESOL Navigator Program is the only program providing these services in Worcester and works in partnership with Worcester’s Adult Education providers, ethnic community organizations and volunteer run organizations. RIAC participates in all of the ESOL Network provider meetings and also Worcester’s quarterly refugee service provider consultations. Feedback from these different networks provides RIAC with on-going guidance and updated Adult Education program information which ensures that the ESOL Navigator program is providing services that complements their work and has access to a target population that will benefit from the guidance and support offered by the ESOL Navigator staff. Staff has successfully worked in multiple locations such as the Library, a local food pantry, at Latino festivals and during community college registrations in order to assist individuals who are not able to access an ESOL class at the college because of language level or wait lists. Again, this documents collaboration not duplication and shows how this program complements the work being done by the Adult Education network and others working with the large immigrant and refugee community living in Worcester.
- Youth Services: A range of activities are offered to youth including after- school homework help and sports programs.