Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Meeting the Health Needs of Arriving Afghan Refugees in New York State

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

December 13, 2021


Western NY


In Progress



In August 2021, U.S. armed forces completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan to officially end the war, leaving behind a humanitarian crisis.

The Taliban quickly retook the country, making many Afghans vulnerable to persecution. More than 12,000 Afghans have fled the country and a total of 75,000 evacuees are expected to arrive in the United States—with 1,300 expected to be resettled in New York State. Most of them have been categorized as humanitarian parolees, and their eligibility for resettlement services has been changing on a regular basis. It is unclear if they will have long-term access to public benefits like Medicaid, be eligible for Office of Refugee Resettlement-funded services, or have any kind of path to permanent residency and/or citizenship. Refugee resettlement agencies frequently provide assistance to individuals with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, and they typically rely on mental health and health care providers to meet the physical and mental health needs of arriving refugees. In 2021, NYSHealth awarded the Jewish Family Services of Western New York (JFS) a grant to provide and coordinate services and help Afghan refugees resettling in New York State navigate complex bureaucracies. NYSHealth is also supporting a complementary initiative with the New York Immigration Coalition.

Under this grant, JFS will provide access to mental health services that often fall outside the boundaries of resettlement services by leveraging its extensive partner network within the region. It will ensure that each arriving refugee is screened and connected to necessary services. Trained professionals will provide refugees with two mental health screenings, within 30 days and 6 months of arrival, using a culturally appropriate method. JFS will also deliver and connect refugees to emergency mental health services and nonclinical support groups as needed. Through screenings, JFC will identify additional health-related needs and make referrals to relevant programs and treatment provided by its network of partners.