The Chicago Welcome Back Center opened this past summer as a resource to help immigrants with professional degrees and licenses obtained abroad re-enter their profession or establish a related career in the U.S. The center is located at Arturo Velasquez Institute at Daley College (IL), staffed by a program director and an educational case manager. It is a partnership among the City Colleges of Chicago, Richard J. Daley College and the Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium. Fifty immigrant professionals are already receiving a variety of services through the center, according to Daley College’s President.
The Welcome Back Center space features a meeting room, a reception area and three private offices. It cost $250,000 to build the space and is estimated to cost $150,000 annually for salaries and services.
Similar centers are available in California, Washington (2), Texas, Colorado, New York (2), Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Some, like the Chicago Welcome Center, are at community colleges. The national Welcome Back Initiative is a 21-year-old organization that “support educational bridges for international healthcare professionals’ reemployment in the U.S. and establishes the structure for its centers throughout the country,” according to Community College Daily.
“Each new Welcome Back Center was established when a local group or institution requested our technical assistance to help them launch it,” explained founder and executive director José Ramón Fernández-Peña. “After an inquiry, we go through a thorough an assessment to determine if it’s feasible to open a center: is there a need, are there funds available, are there willing partners, what kind of opposition might we encounter, is there political support?”
Read more about the center and its work here.