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Refugee Foster Care Supports Youth Towards Independence


While reviewing his college class schedule, Santiago shared that he never imagined that he would be able to attend college. He expected to be sent to the United States to work without any hope of attending high school, let alone graduating with a diploma. Despite a difficult transition, Santiago – a refugee youth from Guatemala – received the support he needed to persevere and achieve his college-bound dreams through the Refugee Foster Care program at Catholic Charities.

Santiago met a number of challenges in foster care. His first home was in a rough neighborhood that made him feel unsafe. Later, his family had an unexpected challenge that left them unable to care for a foster child. Santiago finally landed with a foster mother, Rachel, who helped him to personally grow and find a family connection. But after seven months, Rachel could no longer foster a child due to unforeseen circumstances. Although discouraged, both Santiago and Rachel were determined to stay connected, and Catholic Charities remained dedicated to providing Santiago with a stable family and an opportunity to accomplish his dreams. Rachel and Santiago worked with the program to come up with a creative solution, and Santiago was encouraged to try the Supervised Independent Living Program, where he could rent a room at the house of Rachel’s sister.

“He loved it,” said Angela Albright, Division Director, Refugee Foster Care. “Living there, Santiago received familial support while maintaining ties with Rachel and the family. The arrangement helped him to find a sense of independence while staying connected to the family he came to love.”

Today, Santiago is overjoyed to have a family and a place to call home. He recently began his first term of college classes, is proud of himself, and grateful for the opportunities that prepared him for a successful future. His next step? To pursue a degree that will set him up for a rewarding job, and possibly a Master’s degree!

Catholic Charities’ Refugee Foster Care program resettles unaccompanied refugee minors into long-term foster homes throughout the Bay Area and provides supportive services to both the youth and families.

To learn more, contact Division Director Angela Albright at aalbright@catholiccharitiesscc.org.