Refugee children in crisis
Today, more than 1 in every 74 people on Earth has been forced to flee their home due to community violence, war, famine, natural disasters, and persecution.
Along the way, refugee families are sometimes separated due to death, illness, or imprisonment. When family reunification is not possible, the best option is to be cared for by a foster care family.
Foster families provide a home for refugee youth, many of whom have been separated from their families for years.
FAQs about long-term refugee foster care
Where does Bethany offer long-term refugee and immigrant foster care?
Who are the refugee children Bethany serves?
Most of the children come from Afghanistan, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, El Salvador, and other parts of Central America. They are between 13–17 years old, although most are 15 or older. Many have lived in refugee camps for many years.
Do I have to speak the same language as my foster kids?
No. While bilingual parents make fantastic foster parents, it’s not required that you speak the same language as the children in your care. One of the biggest joys and challenges of refugee foster care is learning to connect with children from a different culture and language than your own. We provide specialized training and ongoing support to help refugee foster parents build bridges of understanding between themselves and the children in their care. This support includes access to translators and interpreters, as needed.
Does Bethany need more long-term foster families?
Yes. Bethany receives referrals each day for refugee children who need foster homes. We don’t have enough foster parents to accept all of these referrals. We need foster parents who are willing to open their hearts and homes to give refugee youth guidance and stability as they begin a new life.
Can I adopt a refugee child?
Unaccompanied refugee minors are not legally eligible for adoption. However, many refugee foster parents develop deep connections with refugee children they’ve cared for in their homes, considering them part of the family.
How do the children come to the United States without parents?
After fleeing their country of origin, the youth find a refugee camp or urban environment that can provide a small measure of safety, but conditions inside many camps are still dangerous. Services to children are minimal. Food rations are inadequate. And children are vulnerable to being trafficked.
When a child arrives in a refugee camp, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) refers them to agencies that will assist them in searching for family. If the child cannot be reunified with a family member, the UNHCR refers the child for resettlement in a third country.
What are some of the challenges kids face even after they are in foster care?
Education. Many of these youth have spent months fleeing and have lived in chaotic environments where educational opportunities were inconsistent or unavailable. They need foster parents who, along with their case manager, are willing to identify the educational services they need and help them with their homework as they begin to make up for the years of education they missed.
Trauma. Refugee children have experienced incredible levels of trauma. Some have seen their parents, family members, and friends lose their lives. These children need foster parents who will help them feel safe, loved, and supported.
Is the training to be a long-term refugee foster parent the same as traditional foster care training?
Most of the training is very similar, but you'll experience additional, in-depth trauma training. We begin with two hours of orientation followed by 30 hours of training over five weeks.
During this training, youth and foster parents may share their stories. Hearing these stories puts all the information in context and helps you realize the difference you can make in a young person’s life.
What are the major steps to becoming a foster parent?
- Attend a free information meeting
- Get certified
- Receive training to support your foster youth, including trauma training
- Placement occurs when you welcome a child into your home
- Ongoing support is available to help you through it all
- Successfully parent your foster youth into adulthood
Do I need to be married? What if I have other children in my home?
Foster parents can be single or married. Many are already raising children. Some have never parented children before.
What are the core qualities a foster parent should have?
You need to be resilient, compassionate, and a good listener. You’ll be dealing with teens, trauma, and cultural differences. You’ll need to be patient and understanding as you help teens adjust to potentially unrealistic expectations of “life in America.” You'll also need a sense of humor as you enjoy the experience of welcoming a child from another culture into your family!
What support does Bethany provide for foster parents?
Your support team includes a licensing specialist, case manager, therapists, and more. We want every placement to be successful for both the family and the youth, so we’ll work together to give you the support you need.
Long-term goals for refugee youth
As refugee youth work to heal from past trauma, they pursue goals of learning English, getting an education, and preparing for a future of independence.
It's important to understand the trauma and losses many refugees have lived through and how you can help support them as they heal and rebuild their lives.
What is the cost of long-term refugee and immigrant foster care?
Foster parents receive a monthly, tax-free stipend. While it varies by state, most foster parents report it covers necessary expenses like food, clothing and school supplies. Foster children will receive Medicaid or another form of health insurance.
You will still discover additional out-of-pocket costs, which is why we recommend foster parents seek community resources and family support.