Nearly half of all refugees worldwide are minors, and thousands of those minors don’t have a guardian. Catholic Community Services of Utah (CCS) helps place those unaccompanied children who enter their program into licensed refugee foster homes in Salt Lake City and offers them the resources they need to build a new life. The United States has a deep, historic tie to refugee and rescue efforts, so it’s no surprise that communities today are opening their homes and arms to people needing sanctuary and support. However, CCS is currently the only program in Utah that prioritizes resettling unaccompanied refugee minors and unfortunately, there are less than 20 similar programs running nationwide. With the limited number of programs and the worsening crisis in Afghanistan, the number of unaccompanied refugee minors is growing rapidly, and refugee foster families are needed more than ever.
CCS’s mission statement is to help those in their program reach long-term self-sufficiency and offers refugee children the option to stay in the program until they’re 21 years old. In order to give them the best chance at success, they also provide life coaches, therapists, immigration attorneys, tutors, and life skills courses. This gives the children dependable support systems, and the ability to grow into well-prepared and capable adults. People who are interested in refugee fostering through CCS also receive medical, legal, and therapy resources as well as state-mandated training before children are placed with them to ensure they are properly prepared to handle all of the complications that can arise with refugee fostering.
Unfortunately, refugee minors cannot be moved from their country to the United States unless a foster family is licensed and assigned to them first, like Kim and Robert Porter. The Porters have always been interested in foster care and actually adopted one of their sons through fostering. When they recently moved into a bigger house with an extra bedroom, they decided it would be a great time to re-enter the fostering program, this time for refugees, with CCS.
After some temporary placements, they met the teenager who they have with them today. Due to his age and refugee status, the Porters faced new challenges they hadn’t been through before with their previous foster children. However, with the help of their wonderful caseworker and a learning curve on both sides, they adapted and rose to the challenge. Together, their refugee foster son learned English and entered high school, and they learned how to cook halal, celebrate Eid, and adapt to cultural differences in how everyone in the family communicates and contributes to the household.
It’s not easy being a parent, and being a refugee foster parent comes with unique challenges and surprises. That’s why families like the Porters are so important. Every child deserves a stable home and the opportunity to grow and that’s what refugee foster care can provide them. The Porters were able to grow and expand their family through refugee foster care, and encourage anyone who is similarly interested to take the same chance. They’ve built a beautiful and loving family with their children and wouldn’t trade the challenges and rewards that came with it for the world. If you would be interested in becoming a refugee foster parent, or want to learn more about CCS’s initiative, you can visit their website at ccsutah.org. If you’re not able to be a refugee foster parent, CCS can also use volunteer help, food and monetary donations, or even help to spread the word about their initiative on social media.