The war in Ukraine has upended more than a million families from their homes. With new arrivals entering the United States every day, our members are working to find new homes for Ukrainian refugees across the country.
Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida is working with officials in the Sunshine State to prepare for a potential surge in new arrivals and ensure they have the resources they need. The LSS team is looking out for changes in protocols for receiving refugees from Ukraine.
“I think with refugee resettlement, [protocols] change all the time,” said Laura Cook, Resettlement Director at LSS, in a recent interview. “Families, even from other countries, are booked, and then they’re unbooked for certain reasons, whether that be illness or whatnot. So for resettlement, it really changes from day to day.”
That uncertainty has not deterred the LSS team. The organization has experience working with Ukrainian refugees prior to the current conflict. Cook said in a second interview that many of these families traveled through the Lautenberg Amendment, a federal resettlement program that was originally designed for religious minorities living in the former Soviet Union and has since been expanded to offer safety for refugees worldwide. “Individuals in the United States can apply for their families and that generally takes two years, so we do receive Ukrainian refugees throughout the year,” Cook said.
LSS’s refugee services provide support to people who have been granted refugee status through the U.S. State Department or the United Nations. The organization maintains a strong network of partners and supporters that has helped welcome refugees to Jacksonville for more than four decades. LSS’s Ukraine efforts come on the heels of its work with our Afghan allies. The organization is expecting 100 Afghan refugees in addition to 275 newcomers from areas experiencing similar circumstances.
Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida is a member of Lutheran Services in America, a nationwide network of 300 health and human services organizations that empowers one in 50 people in America each year.