One of the most powerful experiences for our volunteers is when we settle refugees who are a part of Catholic Charities Unaccompanied Minors Program. This program supports young refugees through their refugee foster care program.
Circumstances are especially harsh for these young refugees. The situations they have fled are terrifying and now they are alone in a new land. WTAP’s role is to share furnishings for their very first apartment outside of foster care and most important of all, to provide the housewarming and welcome these young people truly deserve. When these young people tell their stories, no eyes are dry and we know the meaning of resilience.
WTAP invited Dawn Dishman, Senior Program Manager with Catholic Charities Refugee Programs, to share a few aspects of the program including how one can become a foster parent.
"I am honored and privileged to oversee the recruitment and licensing component of this amazing program," said Dawn.
Catholic Charities Foster Care Program provides services for foreign-born children who arrive in the United States without a parent or other adult caregiver. The youth may come to the organization directly from overseas as a refugee with legal immigration status or via a holding facility after crossing the border into the US. Those in the holding facility are always assigned a legal representative to aid them in obtaining legal status prior to and throughout release to the foster care program – up until approval of status.
All the youth are particularly vulnerable and in need of foster care because they are usually alone or part of a sibling group and have no one else in this country to turn to for help and support. Most of the youth supported are teenagers and once they are received into the foster care program, they can remain in a home up until the age of 21 or transition to an independent living-type environment after the age of 18 – where they can also continue to remain in the Program until 21 years of age.
"We are always in need of families who are able and willing to share their homes with the youth we serve. Potential foster families are provided with free training to become licensed in the State of Arizona," said Dawn. "We have two licensing specialists, Erika and Melissa, who are available to provide support and guidance throughout the process".
The youth placed in a home have insurance to cover medical needs and families are provided with a reimbursement payment to cover the expenses of adding a new member to the family.
For more information, or to attend an orientation meeting, please call a licensing specialist at 602 944 1818 (ext. 51813 or 51808). They are looking forward to speaking with you - thank you!