Division of Immigration Services

Coming Full Circle

The Children’s Village is an organization that has served immigrant youth for more than 165 years. The organization’s founding mission in 1851 was to shelter the orphaned and immigrant children roaming the streets of New York City. The Division of Immigration Services brings CV full circle.

Funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), our United For A Dream (Unidos por un Sueño, or US) program, begun in 2004, provides short-term shelter on our Dobbs Ferry campus for children who have come to the U.S. without a guardian. (The program was formerly called the Transitional Residence for Alien Children, or TRAC.) CV provides these children, who are often at risk of exploitation, a safe place to live that is nurturing and culturally-responsive while they are awaiting disposition of their refugee status. Youth are reunited with family members, but when that is not possible, other options such as long term foster care or a safe return to their home country are considered.

The US program is operated in a protective family-like and nurturing environment, encouraging emotional, intellectual, social, and physical growth. Services for the children include education, recreation, medical care, counseling, family reunification, and English language training, as well as services to help them become self-sufficient, acculturated adults.

Home Study and Post-Release Services

As part of its commitment to helping unaccompanied immigrant children reunite with their families, the Division of Immigration Services provides Home Study and Post-Release Services to children preparing to leave ORR shelters across the country, including at The Children’s Village. Home Studies are provided to ensure that the adults who step forward to care for unaccompanied children are appropriately qualified and equipped to do so, while Post-Release Services provide at least six months of aftercare to youth when they leave ORR custody. The goal of the program is to ensure the safety of youth released to the community, and to support their smooth transition to life in the United States while their immigration cases are pending. Caseworkers provide assistance with school enrollment, health care, social supports and mental health services, legal referrals, and any other issues that arise. The Post-Release Program has been operating since 2010, and between 2014 and 2017 more than 1,100 children and their families received Home Study and Post-Release services.

Awards and Acknowledgements for the CV US Program

  • Coalition of Latin American Consuls in New York (CLACNY) recognized the US program for its work on behalf of unaccompanied immigrant children.
  • US Office of Refugee Resettlement awarded the US program a Certificate of Appreciation for its “commitment to tireless support of unaccompanied Haitian orphans during the aftermath of the earthquake” in 2010.

Visitors to the US Program

The program frequently welcomes visitors representing the countries the children come from. For example, the first ladies of Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala visited and met with the children. See photos below for examples of other visitors.

Tricia Swartz (Assoc. Dep. Director,Office of Refugee Resettlement), with the Coalition of Latin American Consuls in NY, visiting CV and holding US program youth artwork.
The First Lady of Guatemala, Rosa Leal de Pérez.
The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador.
First Lady of Mexico, Margarita Zavala, visits the US program.
Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico and other Mexican diplomats.
First Lady of Honduras Ana Garcia de Hernandez (center).
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