New York state is using $20 million to help refugees find and maintain employment, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday. The funding is going to 17 community-based organizations across the state.

The initiative aims to provide comprehensive support to refugees, addressing challenges they face when entering the workforce.

New York welcomed nearly 4,200 refugees, or special immigrant Visa holders, between 2022 and 2023.

Jewish Family Services of Western New York has been awarded more than $2.7 million as part of this program.

"We are very excited to announce the new program Refugee Social Services Program, which allows us to provide direct job placement and career services to refugees who are coming to Western New York," said Molly Carr, CEO of Jewish Family Services. 

The program offers wraparound services, including health support, child care assistance and English language skills development. Local businesses are also participating in the initiative.

“We provide the opportunity form on a temporary basis...that temporary basis, I always tell them, maybe only three to six months. If they want to stay longer, they can do that, but we don't expect them to typically stay forever," said Scott Swagler, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Buffalo.

The program is open to refugees who arrived through the U.S. State Department process, asylum seekers, certified victims of trafficking and special immigrant visa holders.

In the Capital Region, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Inc., will receive $1.78 million, and Albany County Opportunity Inc., will get $342,566; while in Central New York, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County was awarded more than $4 million, according to the governor's office.

The initiative stands out from previous efforts due to its comprehensive approach and significant funding, addressing various barriers to employment beyond job placement.

Local businesses view it as an opportunity to fill vacant positions while supporting the refugee community, providing valuable first job experiences and helping refugees acclimate to the U.S. work environment.