Orphans, the Border Crisis, and the Echo of God’s Love: Part 3 of 3

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If you missed previous posts in this series:  Part 1 / Part 2


Ignoring a problem the world has dropped on our doorstep is not a Christian response.

We can—and must—do better for these kids who are part of the “border crisis”, because that is what followers do. We become the hands, heart, and mind of Christ to these children.

The immediate cost of caring for the children crossing our border is staggering. We spend $259 per day for each child in an immigration detention center. If we move them to foster care, that cost is $2,500 per month. Caring for children in long-term residential settings can easily run $90,000 per year per child. And yet…

No matter how much money we throw at the problem, the children fail. Because that’s what usually happens to orphans in state care.

These costs encompass only the immediate financial outlays. The truth is: orphan problems are always multi-generational. Add 50,000 children to the system today, and you have to factor in the subsequent generations who will almost certainly also fail: 150,000 in the next generation, and 450,000 in the third… The result is a burgeoning and dependent subclass of society for whom the cost of caring is absolutely staggering.

But there is a better way. A followers’ way that lives out the love of Christ to these kids, and gives them a chance.

For a fraction of the per child cost we will spend on care once the children enter the U.S. system—with an almost guaranteed outcome of failure—we can instead provide transformational care for them in their own countries. There are hundreds of U.S.-connected, faith-based organizations currently working throughout Central America who are making a difference for kids just like the ones streaming across our borders. They provide safe, healthy homes, education, vocational training, aging-out programs with remarkable metrics of success, and, most important, these organizations give their kids the Hope of Eternity. Children in these programs make it—and they do so in their own countries and societies; in their own cultures. Equally important, as they graduate and are integrated into the communities from which they came, they begin transforming those same communities. Instead of perpetuating cycles of dependence, they help become the role model for cycle interruption, often becoming witnesses to the love of Christ.

Is every child in these residential centers successful upon graduation? Of course not, but the better programs do an exceptional job of transitioning mortal-risk children into young adults who are employed and in stable living situations. For example, at Fundacion Exodo, a small, evangelical residential care center in San Salvador, total care for children abandoned to the streets or trafficked in the city costs only $400 per month, but their kids are successful when they graduate.  Instead of fostering another round of dependency, they actually become assets in their communities.

I think caring in this way truly is how we become the hands, heart, and mind of Christ to these children.

What do you think?

3 Responses to Orphans, the Border Crisis, and the Echo of God’s Love: Part 3 of 3

  1. Gini August 12, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Yes, indeed there is more that we can do to help! And there are many who want to do just that. Maybe I missed it, but how does a person go about discovering reputable care centers, the appropriate contacts, and the precise needs they have. As you said throwing money at the problem does not solve the problem. What else is there that we here in the US can contribute and/or do?

    • David August 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

      Gini: You touch a really good point: how do we know who to support? It is very difficult right now, but an answer may be on the way. Through Hope Unlimited’s Hope Institute and researchers from some top universities, we are developing a set of metrics for assessing quality of care. This will be a several year process, but we are very excited about where it may go . . . In the meantime, a good resource is Christian Alliance for Orphans and their membership list (and I can always point you to Hope Unlimited for Children!). If you are trying to assess the effectiveness of an organization, I would always look at the comprehensiveness of their program (do they offer vocational training, graduate transition programs?) and what they say about their graduates. The best programs are always very proud of where their graduates are. If you have specific questions, feel free to email me, and I will try to answer.

      • Gini August 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

        Thank you for your response. I’ll check the resources you mentioned.

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