Asian Association of Utah

Asian Association of Utah

Our community is a unique intersection of two groups: Asian Americans in Utah, representing our heritage community, and marginalized refugees, asylum seekers, and human trafficking victims, representing the community we serve. We work to help victims of human trafficking, refugees, and asylum seekers achieve outcomes of substantive improvement, self-sufficiency, and

Asian Association of Utah

Our community is a unique intersection of two groups: Asian Americans in Utah, representing our heritage community, and marginalized refugees, asylum seekers, and human trafficking victims, representing the community we serve. We work to help victims of human trafficking, refugees, and asylum seekers achieve outcomes of substantive improvement, self-sufficiency, and thriving. Our work is trauma-informed and linguistically sensitive, delivered by specialized staff who journey with each individual and family as they transition to life in Salt Lake City, Utah. The journey begins with an extensive intake interview to understand the needs of each individual. A Case Manager is assigned, builds a relationship, and works with that individual to connect them to the different care and services they need–English classes, employment counseling, immigration attorneys, housing specialists, and behavioral health counselors–whether inside or outside our organization. In 2023, Utah has received 1,000 refugees who are being settled by two designated federal resettlement agencies. However, these agencies refer all mental health issues to us and do not assist victims of human trafficking or most asylum seekers. Regarding human trafficking, last year we served 255 human trafficking survivors including 154 primary trafficking victims and 101 secondary victims/dependents statewide through our comprehensive case management. We have 45+ years of successful engagement with this community and have helped tens of thousands reach self-sufficiency and thrive. Our track record of success is recognized by Salt Lake City, the State of Utah, and the US Department of Justice who fund a high percentage of our direct services annually.

About the Organization:

Our community is a unique intersection of two groups: Asian Americans in Utah, representing our heritage community, and marginalized refugees, asylum seekers, and human trafficking victims, representing the community we serve. We work to help victims of human trafficking, refugees, and asylum seekers achieve outcomes of substantive improvement, self-sufficiency, and thriving. Our work is trauma-informed and linguistically sensitive, delivered by specialized staff who journey with each individual and family as they transition to life in Salt Lake City, Utah. The journey begins with an extensive intake interview to understand the needs of each individual. A Case Manager is assigned, builds a relationship, and works with that individual to connect them to the different care and services they need–English classes, employment counseling, immigration attorneys, housing specialists, and behavioral health counselors–whether inside or outside our organization. In 2023, Utah has received 1,000 refugees who are being settled by two designated federal resettlement agencies. However, these agencies refer all mental health issues to us and do not assist victims of human trafficking or most asylum seekers. Regarding human trafficking, last year we served 255 human trafficking survivors including 154 primary trafficking victims and 101 secondary victims/dependents statewide through our comprehensive case management. We have 45+ years of successful engagement with this community and have helped tens of thousands reach self-sufficiency and thrive. Our track record of success is recognized by Salt Lake City, the State of Utah, and the US Department of Justice who fund a high percentage of our direct services annually.

organizational budget

5 MILLION - 8 MILLION

existence for

31+ YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

Utah

organizational budget

5 MILLION - 8 MILLION

existence for

31+ YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

Utah

The Issue:

The challenges facing our community are multi-faceted, encompassing trauma, extreme poverty, language barriers, limited access to employment and housing, and a lack of knowledge to navigate support systems. Additionally, the children in our community often encounter difficulties in school, leading to vulnerability and mental health issues. Limited English-language ability translates to various difficulties for many foreign-born adults and students. For students, the stress experienced in academic settings can be exacerbated by factors such as the assumption of teachers that “silence” and “failure to ask questions” indicate that they are not equipped to make valuable contributions in class. More than 500 low-income families reside in apartments in a one block radius of the Asian Association of Utah. Studies show that Utah’s economically disadvantaged students face “significantly worse” educational outcomes, including lower math proficiency, graduation, and ACT scores (https://gardner.utah.edu/wp-content/uploads/EdFunding-FS-Feb2021.pdf) The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) reported, “more than one-fourth of the total refugee population (27%) arriving in Utah had symptoms of mental health conditions” (Mental-Health-on-Arrival-An-Analysis-of-Refugee-Mental-Health-in-Utah-UDOH-2.27.2015.pdf). In their 2021 Utah Health Status by Race & Ethnicity report, UDOH stated Utah‘s youth grades 8, 10, and 12 “who identified as White, non-Hispanic" had “significantly lower” rates of suicide ideation (2021HealthStatusbyRaceEthnicity.pdf (utah.gov)). Refugee youth are at a higher risk of poor mental health as well as “discontinuity in education” as a result of various pre-resettlement issues (http://nationalmentoringresourcecenter.org/images/PDF/ImmigrantRefugeeYouth_Population_Review.pdf). Regarding human trafficking, Utah is geographically positioned at the crossroads of the west. As a result, thousands of human trafficking victims are suspected to be moved across our state, with hundreds victimized within the state. National Human Trafficking Hotline (2021) Statistics for Utah show 118 victims were identified in 78 trafficking cases. Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) reports in 2022, that the AGO had 26 open human trafficking investigations, nine prosecutions, two convictions, and 91 identified victims--a drastic increase in all areas across the previous five years. Trafficking victims accessing victim services across the state saw a 48% increase in the last four years.

The Solution:

Our trauma-informed support creates a safe and understanding environment for trafficking, refugee, and asylum seekers to heal and rebuild their lives. Our comprehensive approach addresses various aspects, including mental health counseling, housing assistance, employment resources, interpretation services, and English language learning support. The impact of our work is evident in the tangible improvements we have achieved. In just the first quarter of 2023, we assisted over 300 referrals for mental health counseling alone, providing a vital lifeline for those in need. Our language services ensure effective communication and resource access for individuals with limited English proficiency. Through our housing and employment assistance, we have helped individuals secure stable housing and find meaningful employment, breaking the cycle of poverty. We also recognize the critical importance of education for the well-being of children in our community. By offering educational support and advocating for their needs, we strive to empower them to succeed academically and emotionally. Our cultural and linguistic competence further strengthens its role in the larger landscape. With our linguistic partnerships in the valley and a diverse staff that includes bilingual and bicultural individuals, we can deliver culturally sensitive services that cater to the unique needs of our community. This cultural understanding creates a safe and supportive environment where survivors can feel understood and respected, facilitating their healing journey and promoting long-term well-being. Our organization's expertise in working with trafficking survivors fills a vital gap in the community. By providing trauma-informed case management, emotional support, and access to specialized mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment, we ensure that survivors receive the comprehensive care they require. This targeted approach acknowledges the unique experiences and challenges faced by trafficking survivors, empowering them to heal and rebuild their lives. Our contributions extend beyond immediate support. We actively engage in community building, forging partnerships with state agencies, the US Department of Justice, and other stakeholders to amplify our impact. By fostering community engagement, raising awareness, and establishing private connections, we create a sustainable network of support for our community.

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