COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families

by Children's Aid
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COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families
COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families
COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families
COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families
COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families
COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families
COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families
COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families
COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families
COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families
COVID-19 Relief for NYC's Refugee Families

With nearly $4,000 raised to provide COVID-19 relief to refugees over the past couple years, we’ve been able to make a real difference for youth who have come to New York City for a better life. This past summer and fall, our social workers had conversations directly with our youth in foster care who have a variety of protected or undocumented statuses (refugee, special immigrant juvenile, etc.). Together, they identified investments that would provide relief during these trying times and help them achieve their goals as they establish independent lives in America. We wanted to share a few examples of the recent impact you made with your gifts:


    Gilberto* received no formal education in his native Honduras, where he grew up in extreme poverty. He entered the United States as an unaccompanied minor and was caught by border patrol agents who detained him in an ICE detention facility at the southern border. He eventually ended up in our foster care program, where he works with social workers to address trauma and PTSD from various hardships he has endured. He’s now mapping out a future career plan. He has expressed a passion for creating music, and his social worker wants to cultivate that spark. Thanks to your generosity, his social worker, Caroline, got him a laptop that he uses to create music, and he is now building up his portfolio so he can pursue his music dreams.

    Jessica* moved to America for a better life. Unfortunately, the guardian she was staying with kicked her out of her home, leaving Jessica to fend for herself. She ended up in Children’s Aid’s foster care program. When the weather started getting colder this fall, Jessica didn’t have enough warm clothing to last her through the winter. She turned to her social worker, Jalen, who was able to fill that need thanks to the funds you provided.


    Yusef* had a hard time adjusting to the isolation during the most difficult days of COVID-19. When he was stuck inside, he began to engage in unhealthy routines like not exercising or participating in social outlets. He also wasn’t communicating with his social worker like he used to. Even as the restrictions lifted, Yusef was having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. His social worker, Daniel, had an idea: Why not get him a bike to draw him back out of his shell? He provided Yusef with a bike, and it incentivized him to get outside and establish a healthier routine — and that’s exactly what he’s doing.

These are just three of the many protected-status or undocumented youth whom you helped during these challenging times, and their lives are better because of it. Moreover, they were touched by your generosity – you don’t know them personally, but you gave to them anyway. Thank you.

*This is an alias name used to protect the privacy and security of our non-citizen youth, but all other details of the support and background are factual.

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Director of Therapeutic Foster Care Julie Kaplan
Director of Therapeutic Foster Care Julie Kaplan

The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child. But when that child is a refugee or a special immigrant juvenile (SIJ), it takes a much bigger and more fortified village.

Julie Kaplan is one of hundreds of Children’s Aid social workers who provide care and support to our children and youth in foster care. Her specific program is called “Therapeutic Foster Care,” which helps young people with severe emotional difficulties or mental health concerns. Due to the traumatic nature of what refugees and SIJs endure, oftentimes they are placed in her program. 

“Many of our refugees and SIJs are from Latin America, and escaped gangs, violence, abuse, and extreme poverty for a better life in America,” Julie explained. “Recovering from trauma and adapting to a new foster home is always a very bumpy road. Then you add the legal hurdles involved in their pathway to citizenship, and then COVID-19, and it’s too much for one person to handle.” 

Social workers like Julie are trained to provide the counseling necessary to help young people cope with emotional needs, including their past hardships, and more recently, from COVID-19 challenges. They also go the extra mile to help youth with their legal needs as they endure the arduous process of obtaining legal paperwork. “The sheer amount of logistics in attaining citizenship is really taxing, but we have learned over the years — and continue to learn — how to navigate through the maze of bureaucracy and successfully advocate for our youth,” Julie said.

Some days, Julie and her team conduct mock interviews with youth to prepare them for their meetings with immigration agents. Other days, she pours through and completes hundreds of pages of paperwork and legal forms, and makes sure the “i”s are dotted, and the “t”s are crossed. “Missteps can cause months-long delays, and that can really cause a lot of stress and heartache to a youth who just wants to have some stability after enduring so many years without it,” said Julie.

“It’s all worth it once you get that phone call — the one when the youth sounds ecstatic, belting out, ‘Ms. Julie, I finally got my legal papers!’ Those moments are the ones I always cherish and they’re why we continue to push forward.”                           

Thank you for helping to create moments like these through your support of our refugee youth. We wouldn’t be able to do it without the generosity of friends like you.

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When refugees come to New York City, one of the most promising aspects of life here is the wide array of opportunities. But when COVID-19 swept the city, those opportunities were replaced by continuous hardship.

Mr. and Mrs. Soto* have three children, one of whom is a 1-year-old enrolled in our home-based early childhood program. The father was the sole provider, and was working in a restaurant to support his family. Due to COVID-19, he lost his job, and the family found themselves in a financial pinch.

Then, by late April 2020, the father contracted COVID-19. He thought the virus had subsided because he had a mild experience with the disease, but soon after, he woke up with swelling and a lot of pain in his legs. He had not been eligible for medical insurance, so he did not seek medical attention immediately. After some days with his condition worsening, he went to the hospital where he was admitted for several days. Thankfully, he was able to make a recovery and was eventually released.

Then, the medical bills came.

The family is Spanish speaking and needed help interpreting the bills and navigating the payment process, which Children’s Aid was able to provide. We also walked the family through the process of applying for financial hardship assistance from the hospital, and helped them discover that Mr. Soto was actually eligible for emergency Medicaid coverage.

With all of the extra expense and disruption, the family did not have enough money to afford food. The family received emergency food assistance from our pandemic relief efforts, and was able to get through this hard time knowing that they were not alone. They continue to receive educational services for their youngest through our early childhood program. 

Thank you for supporting families just like these, reminding them that New York City is, and always will be, a place where opportunity is never out of reach. 

*An alias name and picture are being used to protect the safety and security of our clients.

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On a cold winter night in February 2017, a New York City police officer noticed a 17-year-old boy sleeping on the subway. His name was Miguel*, and he had immigrated here from Guatemala to escape the gang violence, murder, and extreme poverty in his native village. The police officer brought him to Bellevue Hospital, where he received treatment for issues related to the unsanitary conditions of living on the street. A month later, he was discharged and placed into Children’s Aid’s foster care program.

When he first entered his new foster home, he struggled with PTSD and suicidal thoughts. He was traumatized from his years growing up in severe poverty, where routine violence and crime were part of daily life. And, the more recent homelessness and separation from his family made his struggles even worse. Miguel was grateful for the roof over his head and the newfound stability offered by his new foster family, but he clearly needed a lot of support. The process took several years, but through the dedication of his Children’s Aid foster mother, and the mental health counseling he received from Children’s Aid, he began to transform into a young man with a purpose.

His Children’s Aid Case Manager, Caroline, explained that once Miguel started to overcome his PTSD and his depression, he became laser-focused on securing employment and supporting his family back home. “He explained that if his family cannot pay money to local gang leaders, their land can be taken, or worse — they can even be killed,” Caroline revealed. The problem, however, was that he wasn’t legally allowed to work in the United States, so Children’s Aid’s legal advocacy services created a plan for Miguel to secure his papers and gain employment. We worked closely with an immigration lawyer, and in November 2019, we secured a refugee-like status for Miguel called “special immigrant juvenile,” paving the way for him to obtain a green card.

Shortly after this bright spot, his progress was soon interrupted by the pandemic. “Right now, he wants nothing more than to be able to work as he needs to support his family,” Caroline said. Since securing his legal status, he has continued to look for work despite his fears of run-ins with increasingly hostile immigration services, but the challenging job market during the pandemic has made this incredibly difficult. During these uncertain times for Miguel, Children’s Aid continues to help him look for employment, and provides him with mental health support, basic necessities, shelter, and access to an enrichment center for young adults — services that are only possible because of the support you gave to Miguel. Thank you for being there for Miguel, and for so many others like him.

*An alias name is being used to protect the safety and security of our client. All details of the story are true.


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Organization Information

Children's Aid

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @childrensaidnyc
Project Leader:
Danny Stern
New York, NY United States
$4,190 raised of $5,000 goal
82 donations
$810 to go
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