Foster Care Services | LIRS
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Every year, thousands of refugee and migrant children journey to the United States alone–without their parents or family to accompany them. LIRS works with the U.S. government and our network partners to place these children in loving homes with licensed foster parents who are trained to provide care for immigrant youth.

About the Children

When a family finds themselves in the midst of war, famine, or persecution, survival often means a dangerous journey. Sometimes families are split apart as they flee for their safety, sometimes parents don’t survive the journey, and sometimes children flee alone. In the past several years, we have seen a growing number of immigrant children flee to the U.S. from Central America, primarily El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, without any parent accompanying them. These children are often fleeing gang violence, trafficking, threats, and extortion, as well as abuse, domestic violence, and poverty. Many are seeking to be reunified with family in the United States and will enter foster care while we work toward that reunification.

HOW DOES FOSTER CARE WORK?

LIRS offers several different types of foster care support through our Foster Care Program. Learn more about each program and how it works below.

Transitional Foster Care (TFC)

LIRS partners with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to place especially vulnerable children who have crossed the border alone into transitional foster care homes. Transitional Foster Care (TFC) nurtures particularly vulnerable children who will be united with their families. All children in the program receive one-on-one assessment and counseling, holistic support ranging from education to legal services to health care, and access to religious services.

For children who make the journey without their loved ones, LIRS works to connect them with existing family in the United States. In these instances, our case workers work to contact these family members and assess their willingness and suitability to care for the child. These family members, and close family friends, are called “sponsors.” (Read more about our family reunification work.) If a sponsor cannot be found, and the child is a likely candidate for asylum or legal status, they may be transferred to a long-term foster care home.

Long Term Foster Care (LTFC)

Some children who come to the United States do not have any family or family friends who are able to provide care for them. In these cases, the children may be placed in Long-Term Foster Care with LIRS, where they will enjoy the benefits of a loving, stable family until early adulthood.  

Children in our Long-Term Foster Care network typically come to the US fleeing domestic abuse, gang violence, or trafficking — and all children are afforded legal representation to pursue a more stable, permanent life in the U.S. by seeking legal protective status.

As they cope with the uncertainties of the U.S. immigration system, these children are surrounded by a loving and supportive foster family. They will go to school, they will engage in sports and other activities, and they will seek to live their lives as they await the approval of their application for legal immigration relief. These children stay in the program until their immigration case is resolved, then typically transition into the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program.

In some cases, children in Long-Term Foster Care may apply for Unaccompanied Refugee Minor status, which affords them more security as they rebuild their lives around a loving foster family.

Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program (URM)

LIRS is one of only two organizations that works with the government to support unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs).  Many of the youth we serve through this program have lost parents and family members to systemic violence in their home countries. In the name of protection and empowerment, LIRS places unaccompanied refugee minors from all over the world in foster care, group homes, and semi-independent living settings. We work with a network of affiliates who provide services to support the acculturation and integration of children into communities all over the country. LIRS gives the youth, most of whom enter the program between the ages of 15 and 17, the option of receiving the support of a foster family or working toward independence in a group-home setting.

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