Right now, as policies and procedures surrounding children separated from their families continue to evolve, a major concern has yet to be resolved: the plight of those thousands who remain removed from their parents. ChildFund International is deeply concerned about their wellbeing. We have been working with children and families on both sides of the border for decades, and will apply that unique expertise and insight to assist these children until they can be reunited.
“These kids are doubly traumatized, first in the dangerous journey from their home countries and then in being taken from the people who love them,” said Anne Lynam Goddard, ChildFund’s president and CEO. “They need much more than basic sustenance. They need emotional support and care. Children who are not in the care of their parents are also even more vulnerable to exploitation and neglect.”
Those children who are not placed with other family members or deported within 72 hours are treated as unaccompanied and placed in government-contracted foster group homes.
ChildFund has worked since 1989 in McAllen, Texas, the epicenter of the current border crisis, where the immigration issue, including family separation, has smoldered for years preceding nationwide outcry of recent weeks.
With our long presence and solid relationships in the region, ChildFund is uniquely positioned to support separated children who now wait in foster group homes. Experience has shown that children may languish in these facilities for three weeks to six months before they are placed with relatives, but their stays can extend as long as two years. ChildFund will work with children aged 12-17 there, with a focus on their social and emotional well-being. The organization has also deployed its child protection experts to the area to provide additional guidance and much-needed psychosocial care.
“ChildFund’s goal is always to strengthen families so they can thrive wherever they are, and so that they can meet their children’s needs,” Goddard said. “Research shows that fractures in these primary relationships can do lifelong damage to children’s emotional, cognitive and physical health. If we can’t give them back their families, we’re going to help them build their resilience.”
ChildFund also works with children and families south of the border in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras to address root causes of migration, including extreme violence and lack of economic opportunity.
This first appeared on the website of ChildFund International.