WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2018 — The American Bar Association and the Lumos Foundation, an international children’s rights organization founded by author J.K. Rowling, have launched a new initiative to provide social work services to migrant children and families seeking safety in the United States.
Under the partnership, the ABA and Lumos will hire two social workers to assess the needs of children who have been reunited with their parents after having been separated from them at the border by immigration authorities. The social workers will also help those children and their families adjust to life in their new communities and find resources to support them.
More than 2,500 children were separated under the administration’s policy this year, and about 200 have not been reunited with their families, including 117 children as of early November whose parents have departed the United States.
Most children and families arriving at the border are seeking refuge from civil conflict, poverty, violence and political unrest in countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The ABA and Lumos will combine their legal and social work expertise to assist children fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking a more secure life in the United States.
“This is a perfect melding of two groups that come to the same place from different perspectives,” ABA President Bob Carlson said. “The ABA and Lumos both work hard to protect the most vulnerable among us. Now, for the first time, we will combine our missions and expertise to achieve together what we could never achieve separately.”
Georgette Mulheir, Lumos CEO, said: “Children belong in families, not detention centers, orphanages and other institutional settings. Over 80 years of research shows the harm institutionalization causes children and the severe impact on their health, development and future life chances. Lumos is delighted to partner with the ABA to provide essential social work support to children who have been through the traumas of separation and detention.”
Lumos works to end the institutionalization of children globally. It has extensive experience in diverse global contexts of facilitating family reunification and supporting children to overcome the trauma caused by separation and institutionalization.
Since 1989, the ABA has operated the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR), which provides legal services and helps ensure due process rights for about 13,000 unaccompanied immigrant children a year detained in the McAllen-Brownsville area.
In recent months, ProBAR staff have increasingly recognized the need to complement existing legal services with social work services. The social workers will work together with ProBAR’s nearly 100 legal professionals and will receive ongoing expert guidance from Lumos’ Global Training and Advisory Services team.
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