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UN, foundation launch foster care for migrant kids in Mexico

November 26, 2021 GMT

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.N. Commission on Refugees and a private foundation announced a sort of foster-care program Friday to place about 120 unaccompanied minor migrants with Mexican families for up to two years.

Foster families of the type known in the United States don’t generally exist in Mexico; adoption laws are extremely strict and children in shelters or orphanages are almost always placed with relatives.

Mexico has seen refugee and asylum applications shoot up this year to over 108,000; about 18,000 are children and around 1,000 were not accompanied by a relative.

Up to now, those kids had been placed at child welfare shelters. As of 2020, Mexican law forbids holding children at migrant detention centers.

Isabel María Crowley of the Juconi Foundation said children deserve to be with familie, and noted, “It costs less to have a child in foster care than in a child welfare agency.”

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The pilot program aims to train and certify about 120 foster parents by 2022 to house kids for between six months and two years.

Giovanni Lepri, the Mexico representative of the U.N. refugees agency, said the program is starting small but could be expanded. “I don’t think there is any better protection than a home,” Lepri said.

Participating foster parents will have to go undergo training to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the kids. They will receive a small stipend.