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Associated Press, Published October 02 2010

LSS takes role in resettling refugees

Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota now will assume most of the administrative responsibilities involved in resettling refugees in the state under an agreement with state officials.

The North Dakota Department of Human Services will remain responsible for unaccompanied refugee minors and for refugee medical assistance under an agreement approved by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The state and LSS, with refugee resettlement offices in Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks, have worked together for more than two decades.

“This change makes sense because the department was contracting with LSS for many refugee services, and their organization has expertise,” said Carol Olson, executive director of the Department of Human Services.

Sinisa Milovanovic, director of New American Services for Lutheran Social Services in North Dakota, said 10 or 15 other states, including South Dakota, have similar arrangements.

“It’s still a shared responsibility,” he said. His office has six people who work full time in helping refugees get settled, but up to 20 others with LSS also provide assistance.

The state and nonprofit together have resettled about 4,500 refugees over two decades and receive an average of 400 statewide each year.

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