Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law
Program staff have developed an expertise in providing
critically needed services to unaccompanied immigrant
children, a largely under-served population of at-risk
children. Many other shelter programs have difficulty
serving these children because they often do not speak
English and have unique immigration status issues that
impact on their eligibility for social services,
education, employment, etc.
Supportive services begin with an in-depth assessment of
each new resident and his needs. Through information
obtained during initial intake and subsequent interviews
with the youth, an individualized personal plan is
developed for each participant. The participation of the
client in "goal setting" regarding education and/or
employment and the formation of a plan for permanent
living are critical components of the program. Youth are
encouraged to set realistic and attainable goals for
themselves, consistent with their interests and abilities.
The homeless youth project has for several years offered an innovative and comprehensive street outreach program including youth counseling and intake services. Youth counselors conduct outreach several nights each week. Youth without homes or living in emergency shelters are identified and evaluated for possible participation in the Casa Libre program. Homeless and at risk youth are also provided food, crisis counseling, and referrals to agencies providing low or no-cost services. Youth are carefully evaluated through a rigorous intake process prior to admission to the Casa Libre/Freedom House program.
Finally, the Casa
Libre/Freedom House offers its residents a range of
cultural and creative art activities, including
photography, music lessons, monthly "Film Night at Casa
Libre" with presentations by the film-makers, and routine
weekend outings to sporting events, museums, parks, etc.
The Casa Libre/Freedom House program has developed mechanisms to legalize the immigration status of its residents who have been abused, abandoned or neglected abroad or following their entry into the United States. Once legalized, these children become eligible for a wide range of social services, and for the first time can afford to continue their education beyond high school and may be lawfully employed. No other single service more dramatically and positively changes the opportunities available to immigrant homeless and at-risk immigrant children. No other shelter that we are aware of provides this type of service for immigrant resident children.