By Shirin Rajaee

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — If the thousands of immigrant children separated from their parents remain in custody one big question is on the minds of many: Where were they sent?

A number of these kids are being cared for by private foster agencies, some in the Sacramento area.

In 2014, a network of foster care programs across the country was established to take care of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. But with the Trump administration’s practice of separating families in recent weeks, the need for foster homes has certainly gone up.

“People just want to help. They want to donate and they want to take the children into their homes and they want to serve however they can,” said Michelle Haskell, the outreach team leader for Samaritas Foster Care program in Lansing Michigan.

While President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that will keep undocumented immigrant families together at the border.

People across the country are reaching out to see how they can help the more than 2,000 immigrant children already separated from their parents with no definite plan to reunite.

“We’re going to be having them in those foster homes and caseworkers will be coming to talk with them and hear their stories. And we’ll have therapists helping them process their feelings and their traumas that they have endured,” said Haskell.

A number of separated children are also being brought to California. Some are placed in foster homes through the nonprofit International Christian Adoptions that is headquartered in Southern California and has an office in Citrus Heights.

The executive director, Charlotte Paulson, was not able to confirm the exact number of children her agency has placed and where the homes are but tells CBS 13 by phone:

“Our staff is very busy. We have definitely seen a spike, huge numbers of children needing foster homes. Right now our focus is on increasing the capacity of placements—our top priority is to reunite the children with their families,” said Paulson.

But how those children will be reunited and how quickly is a big question.

On Wednesday night, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services said the children who are separated from their families are turned over to HHS within 72 hours and are then categorized as unaccompanied minors. Officials say they’re working to reunite families as soon as possible but have not provided a timeline or how that’s going to happen.

The hope across the country is that these children are cared for.

“We really are stepping up to serve them so that they are not in terrible situations,” said Haskell.

International Christian Adoptions takes children from infants to 12 years old and places them with families in multiple counties throughout the state.

For those interested to help: http://4achild.org/

https://www.lirs.org/

Shirin Rajaee

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