Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County has aided refugees fleeing war, persecution, and violence from all over the world for over 30 years. Our Refugee Foster Care (RFC) and Refugee Resettlement programs provide services to refugees in need. The RFC program serves unaccompanied refugee minors by finding caring and safe homes for children who have lost their parents, their friends, and their country. We have served more than 140 refugee children since the program began 12 years ago in 2004. The program began due to a growing need to serve unaccompanied refugee minors.
There is no dispute that the Syrian crisis has brought national and international attention to the lives of refugees. However, it has inadvertently diverted attention from other countries where refugees commonly arrive from. A majority of children in the RFC program come to the United States from African countries like Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Burma, and Nepal.
Many children in the RFC program arrive from refugee camps or urban transitional housing units with limited access to basic resources, such as food and clothing. Some are also victims of human trafficking. They lack the resources that we take for granted every day.
The children arrive to the United States often scared and confused, but their resilience and hope shine through and guide them as they get to know the country and culture that they will call their new home. The experienced staff at Catholic Charities supports the children by immediately enrolling them into school where they can catch up on the studies they have missed. The children face many obstacles such as overcoming trauma, learning English, and adjusting to their life in the United States. One child came to the U.S. as a refugee after her parents were murdered in a brutal civil war. Since then, she has turned her misfortune and challenges into successes by going to college and becoming active in the student body association at her college. This is just one example of the perseverance and adaptability these refugee youth bring when they arrive to the states.
The Gospel calls us to be neighbors of those who are the smallest and most abandoned. “[The] Biblical revelation urges us to welcome the stranger; it tells us that in so doing, we open our doors to God, and that in the faces of others we see the face of Christ himself,” said Pope Francis on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
If you feel compelled to help, the Refugee Foster Care program is always looking for loving parents. The requirements are that you must be over the age of 21, have no criminal background, and have a room available for the child. There is also a need for rooms to be rented out to older youth who are ready to live independently. With the rise of rent in the Bay Area, the generous support of community members is very much needed and appreciated.
The Refugee Foster Care program at Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County offers support to the refugee children and their foster parent(s). One form of ongoing support is Family Night where all the youth and all the foster parents in the program meet with the Refugee Foster Care team for dinner and training. The local Catholic community has been gracious with their generosity by sponsoring the last few Family Night dinners. Catholic Charities would like to thank the parishes of Saint Christopher Church, Saint Lawrence, Saint Simon, and the Church of Resurrection for their kindness.
For more information regarding the Refugee Foster Care Program visit http://catholiccharitiesscc.org/refugee-foster-care to learn more. If you are interested in being a foster parent, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (866) 842-1467.