One reason I’m motivated to get out of bed and head for work each morning is the knowledge that when refugee and immigrant kids arrive in the United States without a parent or loved one to provide the shelter, security, and sustenance they deserve, LIRS is there for them.
Most people don’t know it, but LIRS is one of only two organizations in the world that provide specialized foster care services for resettled unaccompanied refugee children. This unique program started in the 1970s in response to the huge number of unaccompanied and separated children fleeing Southeast Asia.
Over time, the program has grown to include children from around the world, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Burma, Afghanistan, Iraq, India, Ukraine, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico. LIRS’s affiliate network ensures that the children placed in their care receive the services and support they need to be successful in adapting to a new country, culture, and home.
Over the years, working with our affiliated child welfare programs located throughout the country, we’ve placed more than 6,000 children into the unaccompanied refugee minor program with licensed and trained foster families. These unaccompanied children include refugees, victims of human trafficking, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants, and those granted status as a special immigrant juvenile because of abuse, abandonment and neglect.
In addition to providing foster care services to refugee children in 12 U.S. cities, LIRS partners with its affiliate network to meet the needs of migrant children leaving federal detention facilities in need of a protection within loving home. These vulnerable children are supported in their new communities through mental and physical health services, educational programs, group activities, legal services, and family reunification when possible.
This foster care program for children leaving federal detention facilities is extremely important for children who are:
- Unable to find/identify any family members or appropriate sponsors
- Facing prolonged immigration cases that make their future uncertain
- Hindered from returning to their home country in a due to protection concerns
- Engaged in safe and secure transitions to family members for reunification
- Are at risk for and possible victims of trafficking, trauma or torture
If these children matter as much to you as they do to me, I hope you’ll take a moment to read more about unaccompanied refugee minor programs and foster care for unaccompanied refugee and immigrant children.
What can you do? In particular, I’d ask you to please consider becoming a foster parent. There is always a need for caring and committed foster parents, there are opportunities in many states, and the LIRS team always welcomes foster parent inquiries. You can reach us at (410) 230-2757 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, as always, for all you do to stand for welcoming immigrants and refugees!