Organization wants to become “haven” for unaccompanied children


URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Leaders with the Cunningham Children’s Home want to make the organization a “temporary haven” for unaccompanied children.

That means children separated from their families at the border.

The home would provide temporary services…until a host family is able to take them in.

The C-U Immigration forum told us that, recently, because of what’s happening at the border, about a dozen young children wound up in Urbana after they were separated from their families.

Views on immigration policy often fall along party lines, but Ginger McKee believes everyone can feel for the young children who are torn apart from their families.

“For anyone, it’s a kid! I mean they’re children and youth who have no guidance at the moment and they need to know that they feel cared for,” said McKee. “That there are people looking out for them.”

She works at the Cunningham Children’s Home in Urbana, and hopes her organization can open its doors to unaccompanied children.

Right now it’s just a possibility, but it’s an idea many in the community are already embracing, including Ricardo Diaz.

“This is an institutional way of incorporating these younger kids into the community,” said Diaz.

He’s a part of the C-U Immigration Forum.

He’s proud to be involved in efforts to make C-U a welcoming community for immigrants.

“People do that here. They are willing to commit. They are willing to manifest in action what their hearts are telling them.”

Ricardo Diaz, CU Immigration Forum

To him, a haven for children fits perfectly into the picture.

For McKee, it’s already a part of hers.

“We just think that these youth have the same opportunity as the youth in our care currently have,” said McKee.

If they can do this, and give these kids the services they need until a host family can step in…”I think we would be meeting some…not just basic needs…but the ability to have some comfort,” said McKee.

Diaz said in spite of feeling discouraged by recent immigration policy decisions on the national level, this makes him feel proud.

“I am so glad we live here,” he said. “This is a welcoming community.”

The Cunningham Children’s Home is in the “exploratory” phase of this effort.

They have to figure out how feasible it is, and if they can get a grant for it…but they say it seems many people in town are happy this is even being considered.

Here are a few examples of the factors the Cunningham Children’s Home has to look at:

  • Community support
  • Sustainability
  • Current resources/facilities

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