Recently, we have gotten some questions about our work to support immigrant youth. We wanted to take some time to talk about YouthCare’s Casa de Los Amigos Program and clarify some misunderstandings we’ve been hearing.
- First, Casa de los Amigos is NOT a detention center. Our program is a group home supported by the Division of Unaccompanied Minors at the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and is affiliated with the Federal Administration on Children, Youth, and Families—which focuses universally on youth who are homeless, or without family, across the U.S.
- Second, YouthCare is not—and will never be—an ICE grantee. Our staff works successfully with youth on comprehensive plans to reunite with family or sponsors as quickly and safely as possible and before they age out of programming.
Our Casa program provides safe and stable shelter to unaccompanied, undocumented minors while working with them on reunification whenever possible. Up to twenty young people ages 12-17 stay in the program, where they receive dignified care and support 24/7.
While in our care, each young person receives customized supports including case management, physical and mental health care, education, and access to legal assistance through Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Youth go on social outings, celebrate holidays and birthdays, practice their English skills, participate in art projects and activities, and stay in a safe and cozy home with their own bed and belongings. Our Casa staff is multi-lingual and dedicated to providing familiar and culturally representative food, helping youth decorate their rooms and select clothing and school supplies, and securing any needed products or services that would help to make a young person feel as valued and cherished as possible, especially during such a challenging time.
YouthCare’s mission is to advocate and ensure no young person experiences homelessness. This includes young people who arrive from the border—many of whom are fleeing war, gang violence, human trafficking, and extreme poverty.
If you’d like to learn more about our Casa de Los Amigos program, please see our expanded FAQ page.
“The YouthCare team was never far away. They were my moral and psychological support every day. And I knew I would see my family soon.”Alvaro, previous YouthCare client and luncheon speaker. Alvaro is now a permanent U.S. resident living in Bainbridge Island.
Here are some photos of our Casa de los Amigos home.
Here is a Spanish version of this blog post.