CWS Launches Nationwide Program Expansion to Aid Unaccompanied Children Arriving in United States

November 16, 2021

New York City—Church World Service today launched a new program expansion to aid unaccompanied children as they arrive in the United States through the U.S. asylum system. The new programs will address the concerns and futures of this vulnerable group by providing necessary assistance as they are reunited with relatives or sponsors and come to be part of their new communities. Today’s new programs will be located in 21 locations across the nation, including new CWS sites in Tampa, Florida, Charlotte, North Carolina, Houston, Texas, and Los Angeles, California.

In addition to the new CWS locations, CWS will operate these programs through its local affiliate network in partnership with Lutheran Social Service of the Southwest in Phoenix, AZ; New American Pathways in Atlanta, GA; RefugeeOne in Chicago, IL; Kentucky Refugee Ministries in Louisville, KY; Ascentria Care Alliance in Worcester, MA; Refugee Services of Texas in Austin and Dallas, TX; and Jewish Family Service in Seattle, WA.

Through this initiative, children and the families they are joined with will receive services and connection to local resources to ensure their growth as they integrate into American communities.

“This program is vital, not only for the children that will have fuller lives because of it, but for our legacy as a country of hope. Being forced from all that you know, alone and afraid, can unsurprisingly have a devastating impact on a child’s well-being and development. Countering this trauma and helping children regain a sense of security and hope is fundamental,” said Christine Lemonda, Director of Children Services at CWS. “This program will aid both children and their sponsors as they look towards their futures in the United States, while also making our communities better for it.”

“Every child deserves safety, protection and the opportunity to build a bright future. Through our new programs CWS will come alongside asylum seeking children in communities across the nation, to advocate for each child and help them chart their own path forward,” said Erol Kekic, Senior Vice President of CWS. “For more than 75 years we have supported immigrants and refugees as they rebuild their lives in the United States. We are proud to be growing our services to give unaccompanied children the welcome and support they need to thrive.”

The humanitarian crisis in Central America has long deprived youth of their safety, dignity, and childhood. Age, gender, educational experience, and history of trauma and family separation are key factors contributing to the unique needs of unaccompanied children arriving in the United States. Many have mental health, medical, legal, immigration, education, and safety needs post release.

CWS notes that the availability of community social services varies by location, so there is a need to support these children and their sponsors by connecting them to relevant community support. In response, these new program sites will enable CWS and its network of affiliate partners across the country to provide services to children arriving in the United States by themselves.

For more information on this vital program, the new sites, or to speak with Lemonda, contact