To find out about key benefits and services in California and how to apply, select from the topics below.
- Catholic Charities of Onondaga County
- Church World Service
- Ethiopian Community Development Council
- Homes for Refugees USA
- IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services
- International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis
- International Rescue Committee
- Rainbow Railroad
- World Relief
Refugee & Newcomer Health
The Office of Refugee Health works with impacted local health jurisdictions, health providers, and voluntary resettlement agencies to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate comprehensive health assessments and other health services to newly arrived refugees, asylees, victims of severe forms of human trafficking (federally certified), and other eligible entrants to assist them by becoming and staying healthy.
Pregnant women are eligible for the Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program, which provides a range of culturally competent services to eligible pregnant women, from conception through 60 days postpartum. The Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program page can be used to find a Perinatal Service Coordinator in your county.
The Office of Refugee Health has developed screening guidelines for clinicians who do not typically work with the special populations the Office of Refugee Health serves. These guidelines include information on recommended laboratory tests and immunizations. Please use for new arrivals who reside in a location that does not have a refugee health screening clinic. Individuals can print and bring to the first patient appointment to help ensure proper screening and care standards.
For refugees who live in an area that is not served by a Refugee Health Assessment Program, use the official government locator tool to find a local FQHC.
Use the California Immunization Registry (CAIR) Digital Vaccine Record Portal to obtain electronic records of all vaccines administered in California. For refugees, overseas records may also be visible in the registry by late 2023.
Accessing Health Care
Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program. This is a public health insurance program which provides needed health care services for low-income individuals including families with children, seniors, persons with disabilities, foster care, pregnant women, and low-income people with specific diseases such as tuberculosis, breast cancer, or HIV/AIDS.
The IHSS Program is for those who are 65 year of age and over, or disabled, or blind. Disabled children are also potentially eligible for IHSS. IHSS is considered an alternative to out-of-home care, such as nursing homes or board and care facilities. You must have Medi-Cal to qualify for IHSS. Please visit your local Human or Social Services Agency to apply. To read more, click the link above.
The types of services which can be authorized through IHSS are housecleaning, meal preparation, laundry, grocery shopping, personal care services (such as bowel and bladder care, bathing, grooming and paramedical services), accompaniment to medical appointments, and protective supervision for the mentally impaired.
Persons with Disabilities
The CA Deaf Access Program (DAP) was created in 1980 to ensure that California’s public programs are adapted to meet the communication needs of deaf and hard of hearing children, adults, and families so they may receive the public benefits and services to which they are entitled and achieve economic independence to fully participate in mainstream society.
Under the Office of Special Services, the Office of Services to the Blind (OSB) provides information and referral on services, programs, entitlements, and products of benefit to individuals who are blind or low vision and their families or service providers. OSB staff assists such individuals in understanding the availability of services, their eligibility for services, and the purpose and scope of the various service programs.
Medicare is health insurance for people 65 or older. You’re first eligible to sign up for Medicare three months before you turn 65.
The Social Security program in the United States provides protection against the loss of earnings due to retirement, death, or disability.
The Early Start program is California’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Early Start services are available statewide and are provided in a coordinated, family-centered system.
California Children’s Services (CCS) is a state program for children with certain diseases or health problems. Through this program, children up to 21 years old can get the health care and services they need. CCS will connect you with doctors and trained health care people who know how to care for your child with special health care needs.
- Vaccines for Children
Before starting school, children need certain vaccines. Visit the California Department of Public Health Immunization Branch webpage for more information on what vaccines are required. The Vaccine for Children (VFC) Program helps families by providing vaccines at no costs.
For Afghan newcomers who are experiencing sadness, anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, or any other distress; helpline workers will respond to callers in English, Dari, or Pashto 24/7
Phone: (800) 615-6514
- Afghan Medical Professionals Association of America HEAL Project
Limited virtual medical and mental health services for new Afghan arrivals including those without health insurance
All county mental health departments have 24/7 hotlines for local residents seeking assistance in a crisis and to access mental health programs.
- Mental Wellbeing and Stress Reduction Support
To help with feelings of stress, the organizations listed here provide services like peer-led support groups, workshops, and counseling for Afghan and other refugee arrivals.
The Medi-Cal Program currently offers dental services as one of the program’s many benefits. Under the guidance of the California Department of Health Care Services, the Medi-Cal Dental Program aims to provide Medi-Cal members with access to high-quality dental care.
The Vision Services Branch (VSB) administers the Medi-Cal free-for-service vision care program, serving beneficiaries in CA. The program offers covered optometric services benefits including comprehensive eye examinations, low vision evaluations, and artificial eye services to eligible beneficiaries of all ages. In addition, VSB oversees the optical laboratories that furnish and fabricate prescription lenses at no cost to Medi-Cal beneficiaries who qualify.
Cash & Food Assistance
- Refugee Cash Assistance
Cash assistance available to residents who enter the U.S. under humanitarian protection with low incomes; program available to single adult individuals (age 18 and above) or couples without minor children
Please use the county locator for in-person application.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – CalWORKS
Cash assistance designed to help low-income families achieve self-sufficiency
Please use the county locator for in-person application.
- Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – CalFresh
Federal nutrition program
Please use the county locator for in-person application.
A program offering supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition to low-income women who are pregnant or families that have children aged birth to five.
A federal program supporting participants to attain self-sufficiency within 240 days (eight months) of arrival in the United States through financial, case management, and employment support. Match grant is an alternative employment service program to Refugee Cash Assistance and CalWORKs/TANF. Individuals may only be enrolled in either Refugee Cash Assistance/TANF OR Match Grant; no concurrent enrollment.
A program that provides monthly payments to adults and children with a disability or blindness who have income and resources below specific financial limits. SSI payments are also made to people aged 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial qualifications.
A food bank is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has a Board of Directors representing the community it serves. Food Banks throughout California provide United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodities for distribution to eligible individuals and households within their respective service areas. In order to be eligible for USDA commodities, an individual or household must reside in the geographical area being served and meet established income guidelines. To connect with the food programs that can provide assistance, please see the link below.
Assistance with Housing Costs
The California Department of Public Health is pleased to announce a virtual orientation for Sponsors of Refugees under the Welcome Corps Program and Supporters of Humanitarian Parolees from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Parolees, refugees, and service providers are also welcome to attend.
Orientation Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
First Wednesday of every month
Questions? Send an email.
This virtual orientation is hosted by the following organizations: the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Refugee Health and the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Newcomers Health Program Orientation on Benefits and Services Available to People Recently Granted Asylum
Orientation Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Second Tuesday of every month
The Matching Grant program helps refugees and other ORR-eligible populations overcome barriers and quickly find jobs. The intent is for refugees to become economically self-sufficient through employment within 240 days and without accessing cash assistance programs.
- Social Security Administration (SSA) Directory
- Selective Service Registration
For males age 18-25; Selective Service is a list of names maintained by the U.S. government to use in case a national emergency requires expansion of the Armed Forces
Registering with Selective Service is NOT signing up for the Armed Forces.
Register at your local United States Post Office or online. Online registration generates automatic receipt/proof of registration. Keep proof of registration.
Early Childhood Education
California now offers Transitional Kindergarten to children ages 4-5 at no cost.
Lists schools which are accredited to provide the training and the degree which will be recognized as valid
Provides assistance to refugees and asylees who were professionals in their own country to apply for licensure in their field here in California
For college or university or vocational training programs. This federal application is used by all students in the United States to determine if government assistance to help pay for costs may be available. Start early and pay attention to state as well as federal deadlines to file the FAFSA online.
No-cost resource to learn English online
No-cost resource to learn English online with units on cultural orientation, parenting in the U.S., and laws
For Afghan clients
For Afghan clients, the following resources are available:
A 24-hour crisis helpline for individuals in crisis needing immediate, culturally appropriate counseling in Dari, Pashto, and English | Call 1-800-615-6514
Domestic violence and sexual abuse support for women and youth | Call 1-800-615-6514
Support and welfare check-ins for Afghan minors (upon ORR request and approval)
Resources to Save Money
Provides discounted cell phone services to eligible households
A federal program for discounted internet service and discounts on laptops, tablets, and desktop computers.
A program for internet service at a discount for low-income families with children.
A program to provide low-cost internet service and computers.
For discounts on electric and gas bills for eligible households
For low- to moderate-income households
- No-Cost Smart Phone Program
A federal program for qualified low-income households for one free cell phone per household with unlimited text, call, and subsidized data plan with two providers in CA.
Compare as must only choose one provider; phone arrives in mail directly from company.