The Refugee Family Strengthening Program (RFS)

As refugees acculturate into their new homes, role reversal surfaced among the refugee families and then their communities, which creates violence within the homes. The first Hmong refugee homicide in 1990 raised family concerns among the refugees. After several years of discussing the growing issue of family violence, the Refugee Family Strengthening (RFS) was born in 1994 through a competitive grant from the Office of Resettlement (ORR) at the Department of Health and Human Services. The Refugee Assistance Services Program Section administers the RFS program until 2004 then transferred to the State Domestic Abuse program at DCF.

The RFS program is an effort to help refugees maintain and retain self-sufficiency by addressing the family violence in three components: Prevention, Education and Intervention among refugee communities. The goal of RFS is to provide prevention, education and intervention in addressing domestic violence among impacted refugees communities.

Through a competitive process five regional programs were funded in La Crosse, Portage, Brown, Milwaukee and Dane counties. Federal funds for the RFS program ended in 2004. Today, RFS is administered by the Department of Children and Families.


The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.