The IRC in LA’s Unaccompanied Children (UC) program is for minors who have come across the border by themselves, without a parent or legal guardian. A majority of them have come from the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) and are fleeing brutal gang violence or instability. Once they have been released from detention, the IRC in LA assists in reunifying the child with a “sponsor” who is either a parent, sibling, relative, or family friend. During this reunification process, IRC caseworkers assist the sponsor and the minor in locating legal services, community services, and social services.
This year, in addition to providing these services, caseworkers began a summer program with the aim of teaching basic English and financial literacy to students in the Unaccompanied Children program. At the onset, we hoped to better prepare them for their first year of school in the U.S., and build a sense of community among UC participants. Starting high school can be scary enough, but even more so in a new country, in a new language, and with all new classmates. By the end of the summer though, students left with a new sense of confidence, improved conversation skills, knowledge of the financial system, and excitement for the school year ahead. And thanks to the generosity of the IRC in LA's GenR members, they also left full of pizza, cake, and brand new soccer balls to take home!