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California Schools Prepare For Afghan Refugee Students

A BART train moves through the Fremont station.
djmcaleese / Picasa 2.0
Flickr / Creative Commons
A BART train moves through the Fremont station.

California is home to the largest number of Afghan refugees in the country. Two of the largest communities in the state are in Sacramento and Fremont. Many families that fled Afghanistan last month after the Taliban seized power are expected to resettle in these parts of California.

So far, California school district officials have reported only a small uptick in enrollment. But a refugee resettlement agency based in Sacramento, says many families are completing required vaccinations and are waiting for permanent housing before enrolling their children in school.

Districts with Afghan student populations are offering educational services for refugee families and referring them to food, housing, and medical care.

Fremont Unified has two social workers that help refugee families and a staff member who speaks Farsi to act as the liaison between the district and families. An official says they would like to hire more translators who speak other languages and dialects.

The district also offers a support group for newcomers, as well as a curriculum to help them understand norms in the U.S. Every new arrival is given a picture dictionary in their primary language to help them learn English.

Ben joined KALW in 2004. As Executive News Editor and then News Director, he helped the news department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He also helped teach hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today.