Up to 3000 refugees arrive in Houston each year making it the number one destination for refugee resettlement nationwide. Approximately 30% or 500 of these arrivals are children and youth of school age (5-24). This percentage has remained steady in recent years, creating a sizable population of youth in need of special services in the Houston area, most especially in the Houston and Alief school districts.
Newly arrived refugee youth face a variety of challenges—social, emotional, and educational. All experience dislocation; many have experienced trauma. They must adjust to a very different culture and lifestyle, often isolated from other students, facing prejudice and conflicting cultural demands. Most arrive with deficiencies in their education and limited English proficiency. Challenges to academic success make them susceptible to school failure and other risky behaviors. Yet education beyond high school is now essential to success and well-being in America.
PAIR has developed its programs to fill gaps in services and provide an integrated series that serves refugee youth over an extended period of time, seeing them through the early period of adjustment and critical developmental transitions when they are most vulnerable to failure. PAIR’s programs begin in middle school, when the first indications of school disengagement and risky behavior usually occur. Programs operate in Houston middle schools, high schools, and community sites with the largest concentration of refugee students. By facilitating adjustment, helping bridge educational gaps, and encouraging school and community engagement, PAIR’s programs keep students in school and on-track for high school graduation, higher education, and a productive future.
*All data complied from federal and state sources.