URBANA, Ill. (WICS/WCCU) — For over a year, the Cunningham Children Home in Urbana has been planning to host young migrants from the Mexican border.
This is a part of the the Unaccompanied Children program, which aims to give youth a home and an opportunity to legally immigrate into the country.
Through this program, the children's home received a grant from the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The grant will provide the residential and educational expenses for the children at the children's home.
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A representative with Cunningham said the children made their way to the border on their own and without a parent.
That is what the Unaccompanied Children program is all about. According to the ORR's website, it provides classroom education, mental and medical health services, case management, and recreation for youth.
With the rise in traffic along the border and the migrant caravans, the program has really grown in the last eight years.
In 2019, the program received 69,488 referrals, while it dipped down to 15,381 in 2020.
As of February 2021, the organization estimates around 7,700 youth are under the program nationwide.
The large amount of youth makes the goal of the program to put the children in a safe home so they can pursue their legal immigration cases.
Cunningham says the program is just a short-term stay, with the goal to find the children a sponsored home.
According to numbers from the Unaccompanied Children program, at the end of January, the average length of care was around 42 total days.
The majority of these children are boys over the age of 14.
Representatives with Cunningham said it is unknown at this time how many children will be coming to the area, but they expect them to arrive sometime in the spring.