Newcomer, Refugee, & Asylum Seeker Support Guide


  • NCISC CONTACT, McKinney-Vento/Homeless Liaison
    Dr. Tom Bookler
    Phone: (847) 803-5605
    Email: tbookler@ncisc.org

    The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvement Act of 2011 (107-110) states that homeless children are to have access to education and other services. The McKinney-Vento Act specifically states that barriers to enrollment must be removed. Children and youths who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence are eligible to receive services under Title VI, Subtitle B of the McKinney-Vento Act. Please understand that many refugees/unaccompanied youth may temporarily resettle in hotels, which makes them eligible for services under the Act.   (105 ILCS 45/) Education for Homeless Children Act

    McKinney-Vento Eligibility & Quick Guide

    Homeless Education, ISBE

    Homeless Caregivers Enrollment Authorization Form: This form may be completed by caregivers of those supporting an unaccompanied youth (form is recommended, not required). This form would be signed by the unaccompanied youth, the caregiver/adult giving authorization, and the district’s McKinney-Vento liaison. The school district should retain a copy of this form.


    Refugee Assistance & Support in Illinois

    • Findhelp.org: Add the zipcode of the person in need of support and find resources for: food, housing, goods, transportation, health, financial assistance, medical care, legal services, employment issues, and education.

    • Family FocusFamily Focus invests in strengthening families and their children  in Chicago and NE Illinois so they build social capital and achieve upward economic mobility through high-quality innovative programs and services, grounded in anti-racism and social justice.

    • The Refugee CenterOur professional staff understand what you are going through, and we are here to help you settle and thrive in your new home. We are available to accompany you to appointments, meetings, and other situations where you need help with translation or interpretation. We offer counseling services to help you prepare for these events. 

      Services: Social services, mediation services, language assistance
      Email: admin@ecirmac.org
      Phone: 217-344-8455
      Fax: 217-239-0159
      Hours: Office open 9am-5pm M-F or by appointment

    • RefugeeOne: Every year, RefugeeOne welcomes hundreds of refugees through the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Admissions Program. Having fled violence, persecution, and war, vulnerable refugees from around the world come to the U.S. to rebuild their lives. Resettlement is a long and often difficult process. With your support, RefugeeOne not only equips refugees with the skills needed to survive, but also provides a full range of coordinated services that empower refugees to build the foundation for a flourishing life here in the United States.

      Services: Resettlement services, English language training, workforce development, wellness program, sewing studio, Youth & Young Adults Program, women's services, immigration assistance.

      Email: info@refugeeone.org
      Phone: (773) 989-5647
      Fax: (773) 989-0484
      Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

    • Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), Refugee and Immigrant Services: This website describes and provides links for many Illinois programs for refugee families including the Illinois Welcoming Center (IWC), the New Americans Initiative (NAI), and the Immigrant Family Resource Program (IFRP).

      • List of Agencies Serving Immigrants

        Services:  Interpretation/translation services - Provide translation and interpretation services for LEP immigrants/refugees seeking to apply for, or in meeting requirements of public benefits such as TANF, SNAP, Medicaid, or childcare. Outreach and community education to educate the respective immigrant communities on public benefits and other human services. Case management services including needs assessment, benefits screening, assistance with benefits application and linkages with appropriate IDHS offices.


    Food Sources

    • FoodFinder App Available to Assist Food Insecure Families: FoodFinder has partnered with the University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Ed program to create Find Food IL, an Illinois-specific food resource tool. Families can use the Find Food IL map to find places in your community offering free food or meals, stores and markets that accept SNAP/LINK or WIC coupons, and the closest Illinois Department of Human Services or WIC office.

    • North Cook County's Township Food Pantries: See links on our McKinney-Vento page.


    Childhood Trauma


    Resources for Educators & Families

    Illinois Early Learning Project, Web Resources

    • Cultural Backgrounders on Various Refugee and Cultural Groups New to the United States
      Source: Head Start ECLKC
      This series of resources provide general cultural information on various refugee and cultural groups new to the United States. It is always best to get to know each family and learn their individual characteristics, as every family is unique and cultural practices vary by household and by generation. These resources provide basic information to help staff begin discussions with families and communities

    • Fact Sheet: U.S. Refugee Resettlement
      Source: National Immigration Forum
      This resource explains who a refugee is, where refugees come from, how long it takes to screen and vet a refugee, if refugees can legally work in the U.S., and many other commonly asked questions about refugees in the United States.

    • Helping Refugee Students Feel Safe
      Source: Edutopia
      Creating an environment of safety and security is crucial for inclusion of refugee students in the classroom. This article focuses on how teachers can support refugee students by respecting their experiences, offering routines and communication, and showing compassion.

    • How to Support Refugee Students in your School Community
      Source: Colorin Colorado
      Learn how educators of refugees can support students’ social-emotional health, academic instruction, and acclimation to a new life in the U.S. This article also offers strategies for smoothing the transition for both refugees and mainstream students and supporting students through the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • Partnering with Newcomer Families
      Source: Harvard Graduate School of Education
      This article provides educators with strategies for working across language and cultural differences to make families feel at home in new schools.

    • Raising Young Children in a New Country: Early Learning and Healthy Development Handbook
      Source: Center for Parent Information & Resources
      This handbook and associated tip sheets provide families with information on six themes: family well-being, health and safety, healthy brain development, early learning and school readiness, guidance and discipline, and family engagement in early care and education. Programs serving refugee families, newly arrived immigrant families, and others may use these resources with parents to help ease their transition to a new country. Also available in Spanish and Arabic.

    • Welcoming Refugee Children into Early Childhood Classrooms
      Source: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
      This NAEYC article provides early childhood educators with strategies to support refugee children and their families in their classrooms, including creating play experiences that do not require English, familiarizing families with classrooms, and connecting with related community cultural groups.

    • Young Learner Resources
      Source: Teaching Refugees with Limited Formal Schooling
      The Toolkit is a collection of resources that supports the practical implementation of the ideas for supporting young learners and their families. Resources include links to teaching guides and materials and to parent resources, some of which have been translated into other languages. There are also downloadable PDF documents with samples of practice.