Youth for Tomorrow, the Bristow nonprofit that’s long been reluctant to share details about its work with migrant children, is now reaching out to the community to find foster homes for vulnerable young border-crossers currently housed in government detention centers.
Courtney Gaskins, YFT’s vice president of programs, said the nonprofit’s residential homes on Linton Hall Road have been at capacity for some 20 months. Now they are trying to help the Office of Refugee and Resettlement, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, find safe places for more vulnerable child and teen detainees.
“We’re looking for about 50 foster-care beds in our community to make available for unaccompanied minors currently in detention by ORR,” Gaskins said Friday. “They try to move the children from detention at the border within 72 hours.”
An information session on the foster care program will be held today, Friday, March 29, from 3 to 6 p.m. in the YFT library at 11835 Hazel Circle Drive in Bristow.
ORR considers certain kids more vulnerable than others, Gaskins said, and they are the children YFT would most like to place in foster homes. They include kids of “tender age,” under 13, as well as those in the “special needs” category: sibling pairs; teenagers with children or who are pregnant; and those with disabilities.
The YFT website says the organization has received funding from the federal government to house vulnerable child migrants.
“These children are temporary residents at YFT’s main campus as they await reunification. They attend our on-campus school and are provided counseling and nursing care,” the website said. “YFT case managers prepare them for reunification, ensuring a safe release, with family members in the United States or with other fully vetted sponsors.”
YFT began advertising its need for foster families via Facebook last month.
“Youth For Tomorrow has an urgent need for short term foster parents for unaccompanied immigrant children who are awaiting reunification with family or sponsors in the U.S.," the Facebook notice reads. "If you have ever considered fostering, this opportunity may be for you. For more information please call Jennifer Ortega at 703-425-9200.”
Anyone can volunteer to be foster parents, but training, background checks and a home study are required. Foster parents can be single or married, have children or not.
“They must have an income, to show they aren’t dependent on this,” Gaskins said. “There is a stipend.”
The children typically stay is less than a month while they await document authentication from the embassy. Cases involving abuse or neglect take longer, she said. Forty-five to 90 days is the norm, the website says.
The foster parent(s) may have a job, Gaskins said, adding: “The children go to school on our campus; they are immunized by us; they have been medically assessed and are treated by us.”
Youth For Tomorrow was originally set up by former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs to help at-risk and homeless youth in the area. Its Bristow campus serves more than 3,000 children a year and reserves 121 beds for migrant children sponsored by the ORR.
The organization relies on private donations, although the federal government funds 100 percent of the unaccompanied child migrant program. For further information, visit youthfortomorrow.org
Contact Karen Chaffraix at email@example.com