COLUMBUS, Ohio — Governor Mike DeWine has asked the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to convene a summit next week in order to prepare the state to accept Ukrainian evacuees, if it’s asked to.
“Like many Ohioans, I am disgusted by the senseless aggression of the Russian military and want to support Ukrainian families being driven out of their country,” said Governor DeWine. “While we do not yet know what role Ohio will play in helping these families, I want us to be prepared when the time does come.”
JFS did not have any immediate information on the summit. But, according to Governor DeWine it’ll include faith and service based organizations.
“As as state we want to be welcoming and be ready in case something will be happening. We’re still waiting on the details to truly understand what that coordinated response might look like,” said Tony Stieritz, CEO of Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio.
Catholic Charities serves as a partner to help relocate refugees in the Cincinnati area. It’s currently still working with 50 Afghan refugees who evacuated Afghanistan following the collapse of the country’s government.
“The administration created a whole separate pathway for people evacuating from that country,” explained Stieritz. “Is is possible the administration could create some pathway like that for Ukrainians, we don’t know.”
Stieritz explained that the quick process to relocate Afghan refugees isn’t the norm. In fact, it can take years for it to happen.
“Typically it’s a very long process. It takes years. Often refugees will be in a refugee camp and they’ll need to apply through a process to the United Nations and then the nations around the world basically say how many refugees in a given year they’re willing to take in. Then from there, the United States through the state department identifies who will be coming and there’s a very long vetting process through multiple government agencies,” he said.
Once all of that is complete, organizations like Catholic Charities will be notified if a refugee family needs to be relocated in their community. Then, they’ll work to get those families resources.
“In the first 90 days of resettlement we need to get at least all of their basic needs met. So some kind of stable housing situation, furnished housing, food, health screenings, school enrollment. All of those kind of things,” said Stieritz.
For more information on Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio, and how to help, visit www.ccswoh.org.
The JFS summit will happen on March 17 in Northeast Ohio.