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One America - Multicultural Services Program-Catholic Social Services

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One America

Program: Multicultural Services Program-Catholic Social Services, Atlanta, GA
Contact(s): Bui Van Tam, Director: (404) 885-7465
Purpose: To assist immigrants start new lives and build better communities in Atlanta through economic self-sufficiency and cultural acclimation programs
Background Program Operations Outcomes


Catholic Social Services (CSS) is a private nonprofit, human service agency created by the Roman Catholic Church in Atlanta in 1953. Its mission is to deliver comprehensive nonsectarian social services in Atlanta and northern Georgia. Today, CSS provides help to over 14,000 individuals and families from diverse ethnic, religious and educational backgrounds. Seventy-eight percent of individuals served by CSS are below or near the poverty line. The Multicultural Services Program (MSP), an arm of CSS, is focused specifically on facilitating immigrant and refugee resettlement in Atlanta. Established in 1975, MSP is the oldest resettlement agency in Georgia. The MSP works to educate both immigrants and native-born Americans about each other.

Program Operations

The MSP helps its clients enter the mainstream of society as quickly as possible. MSP provides services to clients from four community centers located in the heart of immigrant neighborhoods in South Fulton, Marietta and Doraville. These centers offer clients a variety of collaborative programs such as social activities, orientation sessions, English classes, basic health care services, and referrals to mainstream service providers. The centers are open to all members of the community, including native-born Americans. Thus, clients from different cultures interact and learn about one another. Project activities are primarily intended to affect the day-to-day lives of their clients. Most services, such as housing assistance, employment, school registration and health screening are practical and direct. However, once the client has been in the country longer than 90 days, most direct assistance is replaced by support services. Support services include vocational training (featuring vocation-specific English as a Second Language courses and follow up tutoring, and support in mainstream vocational classes), mental health counseling, information and referrals, and community-building and outreach programs. MSP currently has 16 active partnering agencies.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

MSP is one of the most successful Catholic refugee resettlement programs in the country, resettling an average of 800 refugees every year. In 1997, 90 percent of MSP new arrivals were employed and self-sufficient within three months of their arrival in the United States. Also, in 1997, MSP placed 604 clients in jobs with an 85 percent retention rate; counseled 1,900 clients on how to obtain and retain employment; enrolled 62 clients in the Vocational Training Program; provided 360 clients with preventive health care and nutritional education; enrolled 300 service providers in Mental Health Awareness and Cultural Sensitivity training; placed 60 Family Friend volunteers in refugee family homes; held 12 cultural orientation sessions; and enrolled 170 children in the After-School Project. MSP has served more than 20,000 people since 1975.

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