What is SAVES?


Due to strife in their countries of origin, a large number of Cuban and Haitian nationals attempted to raft to Florida in 1994. Most were adult males who ranged from unskilled workers to highly trained professionals. Those who were intercepted by the United States Coast Guard were taken to the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba. Upon their release from Guantanamo, a majority settled in south Florida. Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Adult and Vocational programs were heavily impacted.

First implemented in April 1996, the Skills for Academic, Vocational and English Studies (SAVES) Program became a critical support to these refugees. Funded through a contract from The Department of Children and Families Refugee Services Office, SAVES was established to address the specific English language, academics and vocational training needs of this refugee/asylee/entrant population. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and English Literacy for Career and Technical Education (ELCATE) curricula were developed.

Students are identified and interviewed using program-specific intake forms. Once legal eligibility requirements are identified for program participation, instructional needs and individual client vocational goals are established. English language instruction is emphasized. SAVES classes are offered through 16 adult and vocational education technical centers throughout Miami-Dade County.

Many adults are able to walk to their ESOL or vocational classes located within a short distance of their residences. In-service training was designed and is delivered on an on-going basis to instruct SAVES teachers, administrators and support staff on the program’s changes, goals and funding model. Training includes ESOL methodology, cultural sensitivity, database procedures for reporting client information and pre/post assessment requirements.

A special ELCATE program was tailored for SAVES English learners. Issues related to US work ethics, employment opportunities, and vocational certification are among the topics covered. Each eligible client works out a student-specific individual education plan with a counselor or designee which details their English language/vocational course of study.

There are over 7,000 SAVES participants a year. Since February 2001, SAVES has extended its services to include all refugees or asylees. Clients include students from Algeria, Brazil, Colombia, Rwanda, Cuba, Haiti, and more. A recent study reported that SAVES students have a better retention and promotion rate than the general adult population in the school district. As SAVES grows, it continues to prioritize ESOL and vocational classes/training as its main goal.

What is SAVES?