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U.S. Border Crisis Children's Relief Fund

by Save the Children Federation
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U.S. Border Crisis Children's Relief Fund
U.S. Border Crisis Children's Relief Fund
U.S. Border Crisis Children's Relief Fund

COVID-19 poses an impossible dilemma for children and families taking shelter in overcrowded makeshift settlements along migration routes. Without access to health care, clean water and hygiene supplies, an already vulnerable population is even more at risk.

In Mexico, our teams are providing hygiene kits to families as well as essential information on how to stay healthy and protect themselves from coronavirus.

Children’s rights continue to be violated at the border. Vulnerable and terrified, young boys and girls are being held in custody longer than the legal limit, being separated from their families, and more. In the wake of COVID-19, children and families are being denied asylum and other protections due to coronavirus-related border restrictions and policies.

Regardless of border restrictions, asylum seekers have a right to seek international protection and must not be returned, either directly or indirectly, to a country where their lives or safety are at risk.

Through donor support, we are the leading national response agency working in transit shelters focused on the unique needs of children at the U.S. southern border, from California through Texas. Our work features programs to protect children and address their immediate needs, resource support and advocacy.

Save the Children is one of the only international non-governmental organizations responding to this crisis on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border, which is critical to addressing migration issues. Our presentence in shelters, from California to Reynosa, Mexico is critically important to the work we do to keep children safe, healthy and learning.

 We are also continuing to address the root causes of migration through our work in Central America with longstanding programs primarily focused on children and adolescents in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.

 Thank you for your support to children in our programs. 

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A mother looks on while her child sleeps
A mother looks on while her child sleeps

In response to the crisis at the U.S. southern border, Save the Children is partnering with local communities to strengthen their capacity to prioritize and meet children and families’ urgent needs.  

 At different points in this crisis, our support has included direct delivery of child protection programs, providing training, capacity building and grants to local organizations to build their long-term capacity and sustainability, providing gift-in-kind of materials and leading coordination efforts between federal, state and local organizations.

 Additionally, we are advocating to ensure that children are protected and treated humanely, and that their rights are upheld.

 While recent changes to U.S. immigration policy are forcing many families to remain in dangerous areas in Mexico's border cities while they await asylum hearings in the U.S., Save the Children continues to respond to this crisis in support of children and families. We are taking a nimble approach, reassessing the needs periodically and adjusting our geographic and programmatic footprint accordingly.

Since May 2019, our border response has served 53,000 children and adults.


Supporting Children’s Protection and Safety

We provided child-friendly spaces, community play areas and mother-baby areas at transit shelters in New Mexico, serving more than 3,000 children and their families. We are providing resources (including technical guidance, training, materials and small grants) to smaller shelters to enhance their capacity to meet the unique needs of arriving children and their families and provide safe play areas. Child-friendly spaces are safe play areas that help children return to normalcy, interact with peers, play and begin to cope. Community play areas provide families with access to developmentally and culturally appropriate materials and may be provided by trained volunteers. Private mother-baby areas allowmothers and babies to nurse, care for young children, rest and play.

Providing Families with the Essentials

Thanks to our donors’ tremendous outpouring of support, we’ve provided newly arriving families and transit shelters with essential care and comfort items such as diapers, hygiene supplies, children’s clothing, art supplies and coloring books, stuffed animals, backpacks, and water bottles – serving more than 50,000 children and families. Additionally, we are providing the training and equipment needed for local partners to manage the large quantities of goods for the hundreds of people passing through their doors every day.

Building Border Communities’ Capacity to Serve and Protect Children

Communities along the border aren’t resourced, equipped or trained to receive thousands of traumatized, newly arriving children and families. To ensure sustainability and build the local capacity to provide protection programs, screenings and services, we have trained over 100 shelter staff and volunteers.

Leading Coordination Efforts Focused on Children and their Needs

Save the Children is leading the coordination of a working group in the El Paso region that is focused on children’s services that includes federal, state and local agencies and community partners so that children’s needs are recognized and placed at the forefront of response plans.

Baby and his father in a child friendly space
Baby and his father in a child friendly space
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A shelter along the U.S Border
A shelter along the U.S Border

Thanks to generous partners like you, Save the Children is responding to meet the immediate needs of migrant families who are legally released from U.S. custody following their apprehension at the U.S.-Mexico border. Our strategy focuses on supporting and building the capacity of partners in impoverished U.S. border communities where families are being released after being detained in prison-like conditions. These under-resourced partners are attempting to serve families’ urgent needs of food, hygiene, rest, medical care and mental health support prior to their onward travel to host families elsewhere in the country.

Our strategy also incorporates robust advocacy to ensure that children and families in U.S. detention and on the move are treated humanely and are afforded the protections guaranteed to them by both U.S. and international law.   

We launched our programs this spring, working closely with nonprofit- and faith-based groups operating transit shelters for newly released families in Deming and Las Cruces. The under-resourced groups were overwhelmed by the arrival of hundreds of families daily. 

Our activities to date: 

  • We opened our signature child-friendly spaces and a community play area at the Deming and Las Cruces shelters. Child-friendly spaces are safe play areas that help children return to normalcy, interact with peers, play and begin to cope and are an integral part of Save the Children’s responses to U.S. and international emergencies.
  • We opened mother-baby areas at the shelters.  These are furnished, quiet areas that allow mothers and their babies to nurse, nap, play and regain their strength. 
  • We’ve cultivated strong relationships with partners in Deming and Las Cruces and have provided training to staff and volunteers to build their capacity to deliver and sustain child protection and emergency family services. 
  • We are facilitating and leading coordination efforts for children’s services among federal, state and local agencies involved so that children’s needs are recognized and placed at the forefront of response plans.  

Thank you for standing with the most vulnerable children and families and making a difference in their lives!

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Organization Information

Save the Children Federation

Location: Fairfield, CT - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @savethechildren
Project Leader:
Lisa Smith
Fairfield, CT United States
$3,624 raised of $10,000 goal
42 donations
$6,376 to go
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