The Calling to Care for Migrant Youth
Celebrating Foster Care Month 2020
Catholic Social Teaching tells us that a moral society is founded on the dignity of the human person. At USCCB, our Migration and Refugee Services’ Foster Care Program works to support this pillar of Catholic Social Teaching by working with our affiliate organizations to place unaccompanied migrant and refugee children into safe and appropriate foster care.
Child migrants, due to the nature of their journeys, are a particularly vulnerable group of children in the foster care system. They often flee their countries of origin due to violence or extreme conditions which make it difficult to survive. As a result of this special vulnerability, we are called to find safe and loving homes for these immigrant youth once they arrive in our care.
The month of May marks National Foster Care Month in the United States thus I would like to take this opportunity to highlight USCCB’s Foster Care program.
The Foster Care Program serves two populations of immigrant children: unaccompanied children (or UCs) and unaccompanied refugee minors (or URMs).
Unaccompanied children are minors under the age of 18 who enter the United States without lawful immigration status and who lack a parent or legal guardian in the United States who can provide them with care. Most UCs in USCCB affiliate program care are originally from Central American Counties.
Unaccompanied Refugee Minors are either resettled by the US Department of State as minors under the age of 18 with no legal guardian or parent to care for them or former UC’s who receive legal relief while already in the United States. Currently the majority of URMs resettled into our program by the State Department originally come from African countries; the majority of URMs in our program who were initially served as UCs hail from Central America.
Our Foster System
USCCB/MRS Foster Care works with 17 affiliate Christian programs across the United States to place the children into small Shelters (facilities which house multiple UC children), Transitional Foster Care (temporary care for children who are expected to be reunited soon with their loved ones in the United States), and Long-Term Foster Care (for youth without known viable sponsors, or adult family members or friends to care for them, in the United States).
Many of these migrant children experienced trauma in their countries of origin and/or in transit to the United States. On top of this trauma, once migrant children arrive in the US, they can face uncertain US immigration proceedings, cultural adjustment, and an unknown future.
USCCB and its affiliate programs rely on Foster Parents to make times of transition for the children in our care as smooth as possible. By providing a migrant child with a loving home, foster parents provide support, stability, and community through a trying time in a migrant child’s life.
During Foster Care Month and throughout the year, anyone can support the USCCB Foster Care Team, its affiliate programs, and the youth served.
You can apply to become a foster parent, support foster parents and children in your community, contact your local Catholic Charities program and ask how you can help, or donate to the Unaccompanied Children’s Fund. For more details about how to get involved please visit our page on the USCCB Website.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville
Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington Chairman for the Committee on Migration
Bishop Dorsonville is the chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Migration and Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington. Learn more about the committee’s work at www.justiceforimmigrants.org.