Samaritas Braces for Influx of Young Refugees from the Southern Border

DETROIT - Samaritas, one of Michigan’s largest nonprofit health and human service agencies, is seeking aid from community groups and individuals to help them care for the young refugees poised to arrive in Michigan from the Southern border of Mexico in the next few weeks. Latino children between the ages of 5 and 17 will come to Michigan for reunification with family and friends or to be placed with a foster parent until a suitable guardian is found. Advocates for these vulnerable young children can call (833) 605-HOPE (4673) to inquire about the foster care licensing process.

“With the expiration of Title 42, we anticipate the arrival of more young Spanish-speaking children who’ll need care until their distant family members are found. They are vulnerable, and we only have a finite number of licensed foster homes to shelter them,” said Kevin Van DenBosch, COO of Samaritas. “These defenseless minors need people to care for them while they are healing from the trauma of fleeing dangerous conditions in Central American countries.”

Samaritas Refugee Youth Services are for Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URMs) and Unaccompanied Children  (UC) from many countries. URMs are refugees under 18 without family or guardians to care for them. UC refers to children under 18 who enter this country without formal documentation and without a parent or legal guardian. However, some may have a parent/guardian living elsewhere in the US.

Samaritas is working with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a federal partner, to help these children find placement with family or sponsors. Once in Michigan, the children will remain with Samaritas for 30 to 45 days until the agencies identify families or sponsors for each child. When a family or sponsor is not recognized, they stay in a Samaritas long-term care shelter named “Camino a Casa.”

Through Samaritas, refugees master the English language, get educated, find jobs, and become contributing tax-paying citizens. Many of these individuals go on to build successful businesses, provide job opportunities and revitalize neighborhoods.

Samaritas is one of a few Michigan agencies trusted to resettle people fleeing from their native country. Visit to donate, volunteer, or partner with them to fortify housing, interpretation, transportation, and mentorship resources.

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* Important Notice *

Earlier this year, Samaritas was under investigation by the state for allegations of abuse in our emergency shelter in Grand Rapids. We opened this shelter 26 months earlier for children from Central America crossing the border fleeing from horrible condition; we were asked to take in Afghan youth when there was no other place for them to go after the crisis in Afghanistan occurred. We accepted 19 youth in response to this request and our long-term commitment to help youth to the greatest extent possible at the time of their greatest need. Samaritas was one of several similar emergency shelters across the country asked to take in these refugee youth.

Due to the severe level of trauma they had endured, many of them required intensive therapy and counseling. As a result of the growing concern we had for the depth and breadth of those needs of the youth and the safety of our team, we made the decision to work with our referring partners to move the youth to other programs where they could access the higher level of trauma-informed care, supervision, and medical attention that they required. Due to state and federal oversight of our programs, we are unable to share specific details of the investigation but we were cleared of any abuse allegations by the state and all youth were transferred to appropriate residential placements where they could receive the care they needed. Samaritas continues to be a state and federal leader in refugee resettlement, including refugee foster care.


Please Contact:
Joe DiBenedetto
Lambert & Co.
(516) 637-0597

Matt Friedman
Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications
(248) 762-1430