The Maine Department of Human Services will fund a unique new partnership that will serve the state’s refugee community.

The New Mainers Partnership hopes to offer services to refugees and immigrants in a responsive, effective, culturally appropriate manner. The program also aims to help the state create an environment that is welcoming of cultural diversity.

Initial funding for the partnership began April 1 and will continue for 18 months. New Mainers include about 250 “refugee new arrivals” each year and 1,000 “refugee secondary migrants.”

Led by Catholic Charities Maine, the partnership includes the city of Lewiston Social Services Department, Lewiston Adult Education, Portland Adult Education, the city of Portland Health and Human Services Department and the Center for Workplace Learning at the University of Southern Maine. All are subcontractors in this proposal.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2005, through Sept. 30, 2005, Catholic Charities Maine will assume management of refugee social services case management functions currently being provided by the city of Lewiston.

The partnership also includes organizations not included as subcontractors, including the Department of Labor Career Centers in Portland and Lewiston.

In the future, the partnership will invite additional organizations to join. It would welcome organizations in Biddeford and from throughout Maine that provide services to new Mainers and/or advocate on their behalf, including mutual assistance associations.

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