Slay, Dooley partner to help Central American children

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by Stephanie Baumer / KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on August 1, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 1 at 9:12 PM

St. Louis, Mo. (KMOV) – St. Louis is seeking to participate in an Office of Refugee Resettlement program that would provide housing and wrap-around services to refugee children.

A wide-ranging group of St. Louisans, including Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Charlie Dooley, are hoping to offer care for up to 60 Central American refugee children at a time.

“I understand the complexities of the politics and how divisive this issue has been for our country,” said Mayor Slay.  “But, children need our help and we have the ability to help them.  As a father, not doing so would be shameful.”

The St. Louis proposal will give the refugees three long established, successful residential facilities for the children to live in for 30-35 days until they move in with a relative or into a foster home while awaiting determination of immigration status. Marygrove in North St. Louis County, St. Vincent Home for Children in Normandy and Great Circle in Webster Groves are the three facilities chosen to house the refugee children.  No American children would be displaced because the three facilities have room for the refugees.

“The response has been heartening,” said Mayor Slay.  “St. Louisans are generous.  When people are in need, we step up – as a community and as individuals.  We have done it many times, in many ways.  It is our time again.  We will leave the Washington blame game to the Washington politicians.  They can debate the cause of the crisis, and hopefully one day agree on a solution.  Until then, we are going to try to help these kids, because that is what they are – children.”

St. Louis will be represented by the International Institute in a proposal submitted to ORR before August 5. By the end of September it is estimate that St. Louis will learn if it is accepted into the program. If accepted into the program, the Office of Refugee Resettlement would pay the costs for three years.

No state or local taxes would be spent in helping the refugee children. 

Catholic Archdiocese, which currently represents nearly 35 refugee children in the St. Louis area, the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the Incarnate Word Foundation of St., and a coalition of women religious, the St. Louis Mosaic Project, Casa de Salud, Washington University in St. Louis and its George Warren Brown School of Social Work, St. Louis University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and the Mayors of Normandy and Webster Groves support the initiative. 

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