Foster Mom Reflects on Six Years Caring for More Than 100 Central American Children
The Chronical of Social Change shared this story last week. It’s an unprecedented inside look at the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program that was begun in 2003 “as part of a recognition by both political parties that when children arrived alone at our border, often in search of safety from circumstances back home, they warranted special protection.”
When it began in 2003, it was a small program with a budget of only $350 million. In the last ten years, the numbers of unaccompanied children have snowballed that the program is battling to keep pace. Subsequently, the budget has “has skyrocketed into the billions.”
Under the provisions of that program, all care providers are under a gag order, which prohibits them from speaking with the media. One Michigan foster mom, who has cared for more than 100 children, agreed to talk with The Chronical of Social Change under the condition of anonymity. She candidly spoke of the many ways the program has changed since she was licensed through Bethany Christian Services for the UAC program in 2013.
Here’s an excerpt of what you’ll read:
At first, it was no big deal to tell people about doing this. Now, we just don’t even bring it up.
First it was like, “Oh that’s neat!” Then it turned into getting nosy. And obviously in 2014, the climate really changed. Sometimes, during foster parent training, I won’t even mention that I do it. For the most part, friends have been OK with it.
Our biggest job is to keep the kids safe, period. People ask me politically about it, I could argue vehemently for both sides.
It’s a good read and vital to understanding the needs of the children in care, who all deserve to be safe and cared for while their lives are in flux. As the foster mom said,
… Many have endured hardships that I will never experience, yet they smile, and sometimes learn to trust you. I’ve been given the opportunity to help the children feel accepted, loved for who they are, and help them understand and experience American culture.
To learn more about the UAC (Unaccompanied Alien Children) program, check out this fact sheet at the Department of Health and Human Services’ website.
Photo Credit: The Chronicle for Social Change