Slowing Down to Better Serve Our Clients

by Charlotte Dillon, Family Support Specialist

When unaccompanied minors (immigrant children who arrive in the U.S without their parents or caregivers) present themselves at the U.S/Mexico border, they are put into the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement to await reunification with their family members or loved ones in the U.S. The Family Support Specialist and Family Support Coordinator team at JFS work directly with these children to help them navigate the many barriers immigrant children face in accessing basic services and resources. 

Although these children face many difficulties and obstacles in their lives, and as the topic of unaccompanied minors at the border continues to be in the news cycles, it is important as both service providers and community members to remember we have a lot to learn from children. Last week, I was visiting my client, Maria*. Maria has suffered a great amount of trauma and difficulty in her 11 years of life, but was recently able to reunify with her aunt after I completed her Home Study process. Home Studies are an additional evaluation needed for high-needs children before they are released from Office of Refugees Resettlement custody.  I later became her PRS (post-release services) provider. As her Family Support Specialist, I can now continue to work with her long-term to help her get settled into her new life in the U.S and connect her to community resources. During the visit, I noticed Maria’s mood shift as I was asking her questions regarding her case and how I may be able to support her. We decided together to take an art and breathing break. First, we took a few deep breaths together (with some giggling in between). Then we both chose pages from a coloring book I had brought. After about 10 minutes of silent coloring, Maria was ready to continue with our visit. It is easy to lose track of the importance of taking a break when we work in a field that is high-intensity, fast-paced, and often politicized. I owe it to young clients like Maria for reminding me about the importance of checking in, taking a moment to tap into our creativity, and slowing down.  

*pseudonyms used for client privacy

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