Preventing Child Trafficking
Keeping Kids Safe
Our first priority at LIRS is to ensure that every unaccompanied migrant child who comes into our care is placed in a safe and loving home and, when possible, reunified with family. Many migrant children who make the journey to the U.S. alone have family, or close family friends, in the United States.
Before an unaccompanied child can be released to a caregiver, or sponsor, LIRS case managers work to verify a potential sponsor’s identity and relationship to the child to determine whether the individual is an appropriate sponsor–and not a trafficker feigning the role of caregiver.
Through support from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the LIRS network screens potential caregivers through the Safe Release Support Program. This comprehensive process includes fingerprinting for background checks, conducting a home study, and interviewing both the child and the potential sponsor. The interviews help us determine the sponsor’s motivation for sponsoring the child, the wishes of the parent, the child’s wishes, the sponsor’s understanding of the child’s needs, as well as any risk factors or special concerns the child–or LIRS child welfare specialists–might have.
This crucial facet of our programming prevents the trafficking of children within our borders and ensures that children are placed in safe, loving homes with family members who are equipped to care for them.
In certain cases, we refer potential sponsors to local support services, such as Know Your Rights presentations and pro-bono legal services, to empower caregivers to secure their status in the U.S. and establish a safe, permanent environment for the child.