LSC program returns ‘separated children’

By Katie Scarvey

Communication Specialist, Lutheran Services Carolinas

You may have heard that a Lutheran Services Carolinas program in Columbia, Transitional Foster Care for Unaccompanied Children (TFCUC), provides care for children who enter the U.S without a parent or legal guardian.

And you may have heard that LSC had been caring for five separated children since early May. “Separated children” is the term that has come to identify the children who were forcibly separated from their parents as the result of new restrictions placed on families seeking asylum at the U.S.–Mexico border in April.

More than 2,300 children were taken or separated from their families before an executive order eventually stopped the practice.

Today LSC is happy to report that those five children have been safely reunited with parents or family members. All of the children were escorted safely to their destinations by LSC staff members.

According to TFCUC Program Director Rebecca Gibson, the first child was with LSC only a short time before being released to an aunt in California. The second flew out to be reunited with her father in Texas July 18. Two siblings were flown to Phoenix July 22 to be reunited with their mom, and the final child left for Texas July 24, accompanied by Gibson.

The future of the families remains uncertain. Three of the LSC families have been released from detention centers and have connected with family members already living in the U.S. They are now awaiting further immigration proceedings and seeking legal counsel. The other, a mother with two sons, remains in a Family Detention Center in Texas, at risk of deportation. Workers will contact the families in upcoming weeks to get an update on their progress, says Gibson.

LSC support will not end there. Staffers are now working with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) on a plan to support other separated children and their families who may be relocated in the Carolinas.

LSC also hopes to expand the TFCUC program as these separated children are but a handful of the more than 10,000 unaccompanied children living in U.S. today.

Our sincere and heartfelt thanks go to all of you for the outpouring of prayers and support during this extraordinarily difficult time. Many thanks to the staff members and foster parents in Columbia who welcomed “the kiddos” with an abundance of love and compassion and fought to protect them from additional trauma. Our thanks also go to friends and donors who have supported these children and other unaccompanied children in our care through contributions, in-kind gifts, words of encouragement, prayer, and even gifts from an Amazon Wish List!

LSC will continue to care for unaccompanied children through the TFCUC program and we ask that you continue to keep these children and all the world’s children in your thoughts and prayers.

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