Promising Practices Program

Administering Organization

Kent School District in Kent, WA

Program Name

Refugee Transition Center (RTC)

Program Objectives and Unique Needs Addressed

RTC centralizes the school registration process for newly arrived refugee students.  Our district has 40 school buildings across more than 70 miles.  We provide a warm, inviting, and calming atmosphere in which refugee families can register their children for any of those 40 schools.  Families with multiple-age children can complete all registration paperwork at one place.  Through community donations, we are able to supply students with basic school supplies.  We also provide the family with any donated basic household goods, coats, blankets, etc., that we have available.

In addition, we help students succeed in school by offering after school homework help, computer access, and by liaising between families and schools for such things as parent teacher conferences.  We also provide workshops for families which focus on school and education, thus engaging parents with their children's education.

Program Description

  • Centralize refugee student registration
  • Assist and coordinate communication among school staff, resettlement agency staff and parents
  • Serve as a communication clearinghouse for various school district departments: transportation, food services, Special Education, ELL
  • Coordinate donations from the community
  • Conduct parent workshops Offer parents classes on computers and ESL
  • Run a summer program to assist in language acquisition and, for kindergarteners, provide life skills assistance.  In 2012, the average daily attendance was 125 students.
  • Coordinate with local community based organizations
  • Provide after school homework help Assist and coordinate parent – teacher conferences
  • Provide computer access for students after regular hours (students often don't have Internet access at home) and allow students to make copies free of charge (they would have to pay if they copy or print at school).
  • Facilitate class fees waiver process and assist with students turning out for sports

Resource Materials Used in Program

RTC accesses BRYCS and Center for Applied Linguistics websites.

Groups Served by Program

Services have been provided to student and parent groups from (in no particular order): Burma (Karen, Chin, Karennyi, Burmese), Bhutan/Nepal, Iraq, Iran, Kurdistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Congo, Sudan, Gabon, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Uzbekstan, Russia, Liberia and a few others.

Program Funding

RTC receives a Refugee School Impact Grant from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Health and Human Services, and is also funded through Title III and a small amount of private donations.

Program Staffing and Required Staff Training

  • One full time
  • One part time (3 hrs/day)
  • For the after school program (Extended Learning) about 25 paid and volunteer staff come in for 2 to 2.5 hrs each evening, Monday-Thursday.  These staff members are from the school district (certificated and classified) and from the community. 
  • Staff training is offered by local community based organization partners.

Program Evaluation

For students, RTC compares the language placement test score to the annual language test and also looks at report cards and graduation rates (for high school).  For parents, RTC does pre/post tests in the form of a survey and/or questionnaire.  For parents that are not literate in their native language, RTC conducts the test orally and uses anecdotal assessment.

Program Outcomes

The Refugee School Impact Grant funds activites which assist in integrating and educating refugee children; as a requirement of this funding  RTC compiles and maintains test scores and other pertinent data.  RTC also monitors student progress through the district's grading system and communicates with teachers and staff as needed regarding student adjustments and grades.  Parents have learned to trust RTC and come to us for help with issues relating to school.

Additional Comments

RTC has an incredibly dedicated staff which enjoys working with refugee students.  The children are equally enthusiastic.  Together, we foster a culture of caring and respect.  We treat our parents and children with dignity.

Program Contact

Clair Chean
(253) 373-6934

Program Dates

The Refugee Transition Center officially opened January 2008 and is still in operation as of October 2012.