SALT LAKE CITY — News that children being separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border as the families seek asylum in the United States have prompted Utahns to offer to foster these children. Catholic Community Services of Utah, which helps resettle refugees and has a refugee foster care program, has received numerous calls from people wanting to help.
“I think people that are calling, they all have a heart to help these minors,” said Aden Batar, director of CCS’ Immigration and Refugee Resettlement program.
However, the issue is more complicated than simply opening heart and home.
“Right now our effort is to get those children to be reunified with their families,” Batar said. “Those that are not able to be reunited with their families, of course they will come to foster care programs like our program.”
Minors who are helped through foster care programs such as the one operated by CCS are placed in foster care homes or group homes. Foster parents in Utah must be licensed before a child is placed in their home. Licensing requirements include background checks of everyone over the age of 18 in the home, completion of 36 hours of training, and CPR/first aid certification.
“People that are calling, we’ve been asking them to become a foster parent by taking the training,” Batar said.
Utahns also can help the children by advocating for comprehensive immigration reform and contacting their elected representatives with the message that “as a country, we do not separate families,” Batar said. “Also, [we need] to pressure the administration to reunite those thousands of children that are in their custody, to be reunited with their families.”
For advocacy resources and information, Batar recommends the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants website, justiceforimmigrants.org, because it is updated regularly and offers forms that can be submitted to elected representatives.
CCS offers orientation for those interested in refugee foster care. The next training is Aug. 2. Pre-service training is offered weekly. For information, visit https://www.ccsutah.org/programs/refugees/refugee-foster-care.