Immigrant Services and Connections (ISAC), a five-agency collaboration that refers refugees and immigrants to local services, just released its annual report for 2018-2019. As the leading community partner in ISAC. we are proud to share that during that fiscal year, ISAC completed 7,106 referrals to 1,087 different programs and providers, an increase of about 30% over last year!
“We attributed the increase to two main factors,” said Brenda Green, ISAC program supervisor at JFCS. “Fortunately, we were able to refer more people to JFCS service areas that have expanded programming to meet refugee and immigrant needs, and unfortunately, because many of the requests for assistance were more complicated and required more follow-up.”
ISAC also reported many improvements to how services were offered, including expanding the number of languages and translator services offered, increasing collaboration with other agencies, expanding services around mental health and legal issues, and increasing “office hours” in other locations so that people could access help closer to home.
The report also noted some of the challenges facing ISAC. ISAC is dealing with more clients who have experienced extreme trauma, which requires more in-depth assistance. And issues which affect the entire region can fall more heavily on immigrants, like lack of affordable housing and child care.
Meanwhile, focus has also turned toexpanding ISAC staff, their knowledge and their resources. Frequent trainings have covered topics such as understanding clients’ cultures, finding resources, needs of older adults and changing immigration laws and policies. Staff self-care was another important topic. This work can be very stressful, and staff were offered suggestions to help them keep perspective.
ISAC is currently planning for the 2020 census, and how to best include the immigrant and refugee communities. The American Constitution calls for counting every person living in the United States.
ISAC is a critical information resource for foreign-born newcomers to the Pittsburgh region. Having ISAC as a central clearinghouse has helped more people and more effectively managed resources and staff time for each organization involved. Visit the ISAC website for more information; there is also a referral application on the site.