The LA Times recently reported on children traveling alone from Central America to the United States in search of sanctuary. Last year, 21,000 children fled a maelstrom of criminal violence that has engulfed Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. This year, experts expect 60,000 unaccompanied children to cross the border.
Through ministries of service and justice, LIRS advocates for all of these vulnerable children. In fact, LIRS is one of only two organizations that provide specialized foster care services. LIRS child specialists and our local partners work to reunite unaccompanied children with their families or find loving foster families who can give them a home and connect them to an education and a future. We ensure foster parents receive training and that children receive the services they critically need to start rebuilding their lives.
Reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske describes LIRS’s support for these children in her article, “More Youths Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border Alone.”
In most cases, officials say, youths are transferred out of shelters and into homes within about a month.
The [Office of Refugee Resettlement] screens all placements, conducting background checks and fingerprinting would-be guardians. It works with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to conduct home studies for about 10% of youths, those considered most at risk — for instance, a child who is disabled, or who has been abused or trafficked in the past. Such youths also receive some follow-up services, although the agencies involved would like to do more.
But, more must be done to welcome these children and walk with them as they rebuild their identities in a new land. With care and support, these children succeed in the United States and make our communities stronger. We’re grateful to Hennessey-Fiske and the LA Times for diligently reporting on the crisis in Central American and the surge of child migration.
If you’d like to do more, please consider opening your home to unaccompanied refugee youth. Foster parents come from all different backgrounds with diversity in experiences and skills. If you’d like to know more about becoming a foster parent, you can direct inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also urge your representative to support immigration reform and family unity through our Action Center.