The emergency evacuation of Afghans through OAW skipped normal refugee processing abroad with families being airlifted directly to U.S. military bases. Host states then accepted evacuees from bases for resettlement. This rapid resettlement process necessitated unprecedented responses from community and government agencies, and a reliance on local expertise to provide appropriate reception and innovative support for evacuee families. This roundtable session begins a dialogue across state programs to share knowledge gained through ongoing response efforts. Our goal will be to share challenges faced and lessons learned related to rapid response, intervention development and adaptation, and understanding community needs for recently arrived Afghan refugees.
Our first presenters, Dr. Shannon and Will Carlson, will discuss the Minnesota state-level disaster relief effort. The refugee health program mobilized several teams at the University of Minnesota to provide integrated health and mental health assessment and support for families. Outcomes, challenges, and proactive support provided in transitional housing will be described. Our second and third presenters will describe collaborative adaptations of interventions for refugee families. Dr. Bunn will describe a national collaboration between Boston College and the University of Illinois at Chicago that aims to adapt the Afghan Family Strengthening Initiative for Afghan evacuees, an evidence based whole family mental health promotion intervention. Using the ADAPT-ITT framework and community based participatory research methods, the first phase of the project involved conducting rapid, ethnographic interviews with Afghan families temporarily residing at Ft. McCoy, WI. Content modifications indicated by cultural advisors related to mental health, gender dynamics, family relationships and language will be discussed. The third presenter, Dr. Im will describe a collaboration between Virginia Commonwealth University and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to implement a Community-Based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support model to address emotional distress and gaps in care access among new arrivals. Results will discuss causal mechanisms of the intervention model across varied complex intervention settings and lessons learned from the implementation process. Presenters four and five will discuss community-based needs evaluations in Virginia and Michigan. Dr. Kuttikat will discuss the Community-Engaged Migration Research Lab's collaboration with Richmond Refugee Dialogues exploring the stressors experienced by Afghan refugees and their adjustment and family functioning. Dr. Cureton will describe a community-engaged project exploring the resettlement experiences of Afghan refugees in Michigan, a major resettlement site for more than 2,000 Afghan refugees. In partnership with Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County, this project utilizes focus groups and in-depth interviews to capture the lived experiences and specific needs of Afghan refugees and to understand emerging needs of stakeholders across refugee settlement agencies in response to the shifting policies and processes.