- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The largest refugee resettlement program in Pennsylvania is slated to close next month, and efforts are underway to find a replacement.

Lutheran Children and Family Services helps settle about 100 refugees a year in Lehigh Valley. It plans to end most of its social services by June 30.

The nonprofit cited debt as the reason, saying that unpredictable state and local funding and a reimbursement that didn’t cover the true cost of service led to a mounting deficit, The Morning Call reported (https://bit.ly/1TjuCeq ).

Officials said it wasn’t receiving enough money to cover immigrant and child welfare programs and had to borrow $4.5 million from its parent company, Liberty Lutheran.

The program gained national attention in October when the U.S. announced it would allow an additional 15,000 refugees into the country this fiscal year due to the Syrian refugee crisis.

The program is an affiliate of the National Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which hopes to partner with Baltimore-based Bethany Christian Services to continue administering the services in Pennsylvania.

“It’s our intention to maintain resettlement offices and work in the Allentown, Lancaster and Philadelphia areas,” said Miji Bell, director of communications for LIRS.

The U.S. Department of State must approve the partnership. Officials said that proposals submitted during their regular annual review process, which includes the application for the LIRS and Bethany partnership, will be reviewed this summer for implementation Oct. 1.

The Allentown chapter of Lutheran Children and Family Services has been assisting refugees since the 1970s.


Information from: The Morning Call, https://www.mcall.com

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