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  • Bob Knight

The Story We Can't Tell

Westchester County Executive George Latimer with elected colleagues at Rising Ground's campus

The story of migrant children begin separated from their parents at the U.S. border has been the leading international story for nearly a month. In June, when it was made public that Rising Ground, one of New York's most respected human services organizations was caring for unaccompanied migrant children, a steady influx of queries from elected leaders. neighbors, activist groups, and the general public began rolling in.

Organizations like Rising Ground, that have contracts with the federal government do important and good work. Since 2014, Rising Ground has been caring for unaccompanied migrant children--providing sanctuary, food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and mental health services--all while working to reunite migrant children with a vetted adult resource (typically a parent or family member). But Rising Ground (and Harrison Edwards as their agency of record) is prohibited from speaking publicly about specific cases or children--only programs in general--and is required to refer specific questions about unaccompanied migrant children to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC.

Still, some skeptics have voiced their concern that there might be "kids in cages" on the organization's Yonkers, New York campus and that efforts were not truly underway to reunite families. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

A Congressional Visit

On July 3rd, U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel led a delegation of elected leaders to tour the facility. Mr. Engle was granted access by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) to see the program and observe the children. He told the press that the children appeared to be well cared for at Rising Ground. Read some of what he had to say here.

In the meantime, the outpouring of support has been almost overwhelming for agencies like Rising Ground, who are taking extraordinary care of those whom they support. Members of the public have been making monetary donations, as well as gifting clothing and supplies to the agencies. Read more about it here. (Note: Source is having intermittent server errors.)

Organizations like Rising Ground need monetary donations to help cover the costs in their unaccompanied migrant program called "Passage of Hope." While their federal contract is generous, the funds are used to provide the essentials for up to 151 unaccompanied minors. What's not covered is the cost of recreation and other quality-of-life expenses that must be covered privately. Click here to donate.

While we won't discuss the specifics of Rising Ground's Passage of Hope (unaccompanied minors) program, we can say there is a dedicated group of professionals who are caring for the physical and emotional needs of the children temporarily entrusted to them. They are doing a wonderful job working with children on their campus who have experienced trauma, isolation, and loss. Fewer jobs are more important.

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