Founded in 1946, Church World Service (CWS) is a non-profit and faith-based global humanitarian organization that provides sustainable self-help, development, disaster relief and refugee and immigrant assistance around the world and in the United States (U.S.) CWS has assisted over 865,000 refugees and immigrants to start new lives in the U.S. and to integrate into their communities.
CWS is one of sixteen agencies contracted by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to welcome and provide Home Study and Post Release Services (HSPRS) to unaccompanied children (UC) throughout the United States. CWS was one of seven new HSPRS grantees in 2021. CWS has HSPRS sites in Walnut Creek and the following locations: Houston, Dallas and Austin, TX; Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami, West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; New York, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Washington, DC; Charlotte, NC; Jersey City, NJ; Louisville, Kentucky; Seattle, Washington; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Winchester and Harrisonburg, Virginia. Through this program, unaccompanied children and their sponsors receive a scheme of core services designed to facilitate integration and empowerment among immigrant families in their new communities.
The HSPRS program was launched in Walnut Creek in February 2023. The HSPRS program in Los Angeles is a new location for CWS as an organization and was the first location that began providing services within the HSPRS network in December 2021. Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children seek refuge in the United States each year. Most are fleeing threats and violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.
The children are released from the Office of Refugee Resettlement custody into the care of a sponsor. Most (85%) join a relative or friend already living in the United States. It is often a tough transition. They adjust to new communities, cultures, languages, and family units. Each child has mental health, safety, education, and legal needs that must be met.
They are facing a new world, and they are doing it with very limited help. That's where CWS comes in.
In our Home Study and Post Release Services program, CWS and our network of providers nationwide are working with these children and their sponsors. In the Home Study part of the program, we will visit the homes where children will be living before, they get there. We will interview each member of the household and ensure this is a safe placement for the child while supporting the sponsor to prepare for the responsibility of promoting the arriving child’s safety, rights, and needs. Once the child is living with their sponsor, the Post Release Services component of our work starts. CWS caseworkers will work with the children and sponsors to create an action plan. They will set goals like finishing school, obtaining legal immigration status, or connecting to other community support systems. Then we will check in with the child and their sponsors at least once a month to make sure the child is safe and making progress. The entire process will take place in whatever language the child and their sponsor are most comfortable speaking.