Refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo will be arriving to Reno this week as part of a federal program to resettle those facing persecution in their home countries.
The Northern Nevada International Center, a local non-profit, is welcoming two families from Congo. The Center’s Carina Black said that program exists in most states, and Reno will get up to 75 new refugees in the coming year.
“We are working with various faith communities that are adopting families,” she said. “They stock their apartments with furniture and household goods, and then we’ll take over and we’ll get them enrolled in school, and get them into employment and ESL situations so that they can be self sufficient as quickly as possible.”
Black said that 75 percent of refugees become self sufficient within five months of resettlement.
Black’s presentation at today’s Board of County Commissioners meeting drew opposition and support.
A few people spoke against the program, with one person saying that federal resources should be used locally to support veterans. Another person speaking during public comment said the refugees could be Muslim extremists.
Black said that refugees go through many layers of vetting over multiple months before a refugee application is processed.
Mike Thornton of ACTIONN said he supported the program and that there would be a large contingent welcoming the families to Reno. County Commissioner Kitty Jung also said she supported the refugees and would be welcoming them to the community.
More County Commission Meeting Highlights
Courtesy of Washoe County
The following report highlights several important agenda items from the Washoe County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016. Videos of County Commission meetings are replayed regularly on WCTV (Charter Ch. 193). You may also watch videos on-demand online.
1. Commissioners approve two grants for adoption and foster care. The Board of County Commissioners accepted a $250,000 grant from the Fund to Assist Former Foster Youth to help promote adoption and forever families for foster children.
Washoe County Social Services partnered with Wolf Pack Sports for an innovative marketing campaign to expand awareness for the need for adoptive and foster families and to promote supportive services such as mentoring for foster youth. Since last year,116 foster children were connected with forever families through adoption.
Assembly Bill 94, passed by the 2001 Legislature, established funding to support foster youth transitioning to adulthood. Distribution of funds is based on need and is used to buy food and assist in job training, housing assistance, medical insurance and other necessities to achieve self-sufficiency. Foster youth aging out of care often do not have a family to support them as they transition to adulthood. The Washoe County Department of Social Services partners with the Children’s Cabinet to provide supportive framework for former foster youth to help achieve self-sufficiency.
County Commissioners also accepted a $206,835 grant from the State of Nevada Division of Child and Family Services for the Department of Social Services’ Adoption Incentive Program. Funds are provided in support of child welfare in areas of foster care, adoption recruitment and training. Social Services will use the money to help with travel and transition costs to place adopted children with families.
2. Two behavioral health service grants approved. Commissioners approved a total of $117,020 in grants to provide money for mental health substance abuse treatment services.
A $47,020 grant was awarded from the State of Nevada Division of Public for Behavioral Health, Behavioral Health, Prevention and Treatment. The money will help Washoe County Social Services meet the mental health needs of seniors in our community.
“Over the past year or so, we have seen a high number of seniors show signs of depression, aggression, and substance abuse,” Washoe County Social Services Director Amber Howell said. “Seniors are the fastest growing demographic of Washoe County’s population and this grant is a start to addressing the needs of our valued seniors.”
In addition, County Commissioners approved a grant of $70,000 from the State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public & Behavioral Health. Howell said the money will go toward providing substance abuse treatment services for clients referred to the Social Services department.
Social Services is responsible for collecting and recording data about clients referred and services provided. Social Services partners with several local courts and programs to get clients intensive outpatient care, residential care, withdrawal and management help.
3. Commissioners approve grants to provide services for victims of abuse. County Commissioners approved two grants for a total of $80,000 to provide support services to victims of abuse. The first is a Victim of Crime Act grant from the State Division of Child and Family Services to provide counseling at the Washoe County Child Advocacy Center (CAC).
The second is the Violence Against Women Act subgrant, which will help the District Attorney’s Office provide counseling at the CAC.
The CAC opened in 2014 to serve the needs of child victims of crime and their families. The CAC houses a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and the Child Abuse Response and Evaluations (CARES) programs, which offer forensic examinations to adult and children who are victims of sexual assault. The CAC currently has prosecutors, victim advocates, investigators, doctors, nurses, social workers and law enforcement. Last year the Violence Against Women Act funded a counseling pilot program. With these two grants, the CAC is able to continue offering on-site services to victims of crime.
“The CAC is revolutionizing the way law enforcement investigates and prosecutes crimes against children,” Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks said. “The importance of providing counseling to these vulnerable victims early in the investigative process cannot be overstated and is furthering our successes at the Center.”
Read more about the CAC.
4. County Commissioners receive Public Federal Lands Bill update. County Commissioners received the presentation and update regarding the Washoe County Economic Development and Conservation Act (Washoe County Federal Lands Bill) from Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller. Community Services published two new maps of proposed areas that Washoe County is requesting be transferred out of federal ownership for economic development, conservation and other civic purposes. Mapping includes requests from the Cities of Reno and Sparks, other local jurisdictions and public stakeholders. Commissioners approved the draft mapping of the areas that may be impacted by the transfer of land.
The two maps can be seen here (See map one and map two). Washoe County has also created an information page for residents to view online.
The Federal Public Lands Bill will make the following a priority:
Making federal lands available for future economic development opportunities
Expanding recreational opportunities in Washoe County by providing land for parks and trails
Creating opportunities for local jurisdictions to acquire federal lands to support their various needs
Designating new wilderness areas and providing funding for habitat restoration and other conservation efforts
Washoe County is hosting an open house for the public to learn more about the Public Lands Bill in the atrium of the Washoe County Administration Complex (1001 E. 9th St., Reno) on Friday, Sept. 16, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. A second open house is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
5. Three new members appointed to the Washoe County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife. County Commissioners appointed Arnold Pitts, Meghan DiRocco and Steve Robinson by majority vote to serve on the Washoe County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife from Aug. 23, 2016 through June 30, 2019.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.