A state-licensed social service agency that specializes in serving the mental health needs of Southeast Asian families announced Monday its merger with Community Renewal Team, the Hartford regional anti-poverty agency.
Asian Family Services, an organization founded in 1996 to aid Southeast Asian immigrants in making the transition to the United States, said the merger will bring necessary financial and institutional backing as the organization looks to keep up with the needs of the state's growing Asian community.
U.S. Census figures show that from 2000 to 2003, the state's total Asian population grew by more than 16,000 and now totals more than 100,000. By 2005, about 3.2 percent of the state's residents were Asian.
Since its founding, Asian Family Services has offered a variety of mental health, citizenship, substance abuse and addiction and social support services for its clients, most of whom are low-income refugees and immigrants suffering from postwar traumas and disorders.
The organization's service mission was made more challenging because its clients speak different languages, follow dozens of religions and follow a variety of cultures and customs.
In recent years, the organization also faced decreased funding and a growing demand for its services, so officials began to seek a partner to assist with operations such as billing, payroll and grant-writing.
Sung-Ho Hwang, president of Asian Family Services' board of directors, said the merger will allow the two organizations to offer a higher level of services to the Asian community.
"We are confident that CRT will continue with AFS's mission of helping the underserved Asian population in Connecticut by providing them a culturally competent approach to treating their mental health and substance abuse issues," Hwang said in a written statement.
The Asian Family Center, at 1921 Park St., has caseworkers who are native speakers of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Cantonese and Thai.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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