Katelin Cortney, director of public relations at Catholic Charities of Fort Worth, provided information about the Unaccompanied Children Crisis with Fort Worth Moms Blog staff earlier this week. Catholic Charities is the Tarrant County hub for mobilizing the humanitarian aid and relief for these migrant children housed within our county’s borders. This article provides information about the crisis and ways the community can help. The article does not intend to take issue with or show support for current or proposed immigration laws or reforms.
Founded in 1910, Catholic Charities Fort Worth (CCFW) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a zealous goal to end poverty in our 28 county diocese. By meeting the needs of children, families, elderly, refugees, and immigrants regardless of creed, ethnicity, or culture, we are able to serve and give hope to more than 100,000 individuals and families in need each year.
The number of children apprehended at the U.S./Mexico border between 2004-2011 averaged 6,800 per year. In 2012, that total number jumped to more than 13,000 children and then to 24,000 in 2013. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS/ORR) estimates between 60,000-90,000 unaccompanied children could enter the country in 2014.
Most of these children are from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. These children flee their home because their home countries lack economic opportunity and quality education, and because a growing extreme criminal presence threatens citizen security and creates an environment of fear.
CCFW has a designated number of beds set aside for some of the children placed in our care. Through our International Foster Care program, others are placed in foster homes. Regardless of where they are housed, all of our children have a case manager who works to reunify them with their families in the U.S. We house them, screen them to assess if they are victims of human trafficking, determine whether they are eligible for legal status in the U.S., administer a full medical checkup and vaccines, and provide them with a safe place to live for perhaps the first time in their lives. While with us, HHS/ORR works to find U.S.-resident relatives or other sponsors with whom the children can live while they await the outcome of their immigration. With the rising influx of kids comes the need to expand capacity in both of these programs.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The International Foster Care program partners with foster families to provide children who have fled their country of origin with a safe, nurturing, culturally sensitive environment that equips and empowers them to reach their full potential. The IFC program works with Unaccompanied Refugee Minors and youth referred by the Division of Unaccompanied Children’s Services shelters.
The need for foster parents is long-term and we need foster families ready and waiting for when the youth arrive. Currently, we do not have a large number of children waiting for foster homes, but do expect to see the need increase as the influx continues and more children are referred for long-term foster care. We need families that are open to all of our client populations and not just those from Central and South America.
For more information about foster opportunities, email [email protected]
The Creating Hope Donation Center at CCFW is proud to serve the needs of these children, and appreciate any who would like to help meet the immediate needs of all children in our care. On the CCFW website, you can find a complete list of items that should be included in the Activity Box (wash cloths, composition book, crayons, etc.); the School Supply Bags (backpack, folders, pencils, etc.); the Hygiene Welcome Box (lotion, shampoo, toothbrush, etc.); and other additional needed items, such as toilet paper, canned food, and laundry detergent. If you are unable to provide all of the items in one box, we will happily accept any of the items listed on the website.
CCFW also gladly accepts gift cards of any amount to Wal-Mart, Target, and AMC Theaters. A financial gift to CCFW will help continue our efforts to care for children through more than 40 programs. With 90 cents of every dollar given going directly towards poverty-ending programs, you can impact lives.
Financial donations can be mailed to: CCFW, P.O. Box 15610, Fort Worth, TX 76118. Make drop-off donations at 249 Thornhill Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76115, Monday-Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Contact Danielle Graham (817-413-3926, [email protected]) or Emma Rojas (817-413-3908, [email protected]) for more information about donation opportunities.
There will always be ongoing volunteer needs for those seeking to assist CCFW clients in need, especially our Unaccompanied Children. To find out more about volunteering at CCFW, register for one of the upcoming volunteer orientations: August 16 at 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and September 4 during the same times. To work directly with IFC and UAC children, volunteers need to go through a State of Texas Volunteer Background Check that requires a Social Security Number. Contact 817-289-3871 or [email protected] for more information.
If you are still looking for a way to help, buy a WORN or wee WORN product. As a program of CCFW, all WORN’s proceeds are reinvested into agency programs like the one that provides shelter to these young children.
For a thorough explanation of CCFW involvement in the Unaccompanied Children Crisis and ways you can help, visit catholiccharitiesfortworth.org/unaccompaniedchildren.