Transitional, or short-term, foster care provides safe and loving homes for unaccompanied children 5 -12 years old while their parents or legal guardians are sought in the United States. In fiscal year 2021, 122,731 unaccompanied children were referred to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the government agency responsible for their custody and care.
Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) provides Transitional Foster Care to unaccompanied children in Northern Virginia through a grant from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and HHS/ORR. Children placed in this program will stay on average of 30-60 days while case managers work to identify safe and appropriate family reunification options. Without the support of at-the-ready certified foster families, we wouldn’t be able to fulfill this mission.
WHO ARE UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN?
The federal definition of an unaccompanied child is one who has no lawful immigration status in the United States, is younger than 18 years old, and who, at the time they are identified, is not in the custody of a parent or legal guardian.
Unaccompanied children are often fleeing violence and conflict in their home countries, and/or may be seeking reunification with family members who are already in the U.S. In addition to the conditions that led them to flee, they often experience long, circuitous, and dangerous journeys to the U.S. Their lived experience, age, migration journeys, and separation from parents or custodians make unaccompanied children particularly vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation, and abuse.
ORR places unaccompanied children in its network of community-based providers which provide a continuum of care to include shelters, transitional or long-term foster care or group homes, secure facilities, residential treatment centers, and other facilities that provide for special needs. Children receive classroom education, mental health services, access to legal services, and vocational training while case managers work to identify family reunification options.
WHO CAN BE A FOSTER PARENT?
We welcome foster parents who are over the age of 21, are able to support the child’s needs, and who pass child protection and criminal background checks. We invite and encourage those who are married or single; homeowners or renters; already-parents or never parented; and LGBTQ+ families to open their homes and hearts.
We provide informational sessions and training to prospective and current foster families, as well as case management and support services to children and youth.
Please consider opening your heart and home to a youth in need by becoming a transitional foster parent.