The NYJL’s Open Letter of Support to Protect Unaccompanied Children
Dear Members of the New York State Assembly,
The New York Junior League supports the Separation of Children Accountability Reporting (SCAR) Act (A01436B/S00222B), as well as the intentions of the Child Trauma Response Act (A07816/S06225), that have been introduced to the New York State legislature. The New York Junior League is one of the oldest and largest women’s non-profit volunteer organization in the city. We have more than 2,800 volunteers—of all races, religions, and ethnicities—who donate more than 250,000 hours of service every year. We are leaders, philanthropists, and activists. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. We are a community of women, bound by a single goal—to improve the health and well-being of women, children, and families in New York.
The Separation of Children Accountability Reporting (SCAR) Act, sponsored by New York State Senator Brian Benjamin and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, promotes transparency of information about the number of unaccompanied immigrant children placed in the care of agencies in New York – a number that may be surprising to some. The New York State Senate just overwhelmingly ratified the bill, and it is in committee within the Assembly. The bill requires consistent reporting of the number of separated children who are placed in the custody of foster care agencies by the federal government, so that the people and government of New York know how many of these vulnerable children are in our state and who is responsible for their care. Reports would be submitted to the state twice a year, or within 30 days upon the governor’s request, with the aim of mitigating the risk of losing track of these children.
The Child Trauma Response Act, sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biagi and Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, seeks to provide support and services for unaccompanied minors, including physical and mental health services, legal services, language services, and assistance with educational rights and enrollment in public schools. The legislation seeks to alleviate and remediate the trauma that children endure in being separated from their families and support networks.
With so little time left in the New York State legislative session before the break, the New York Junior League strongly supports moving these bills forward. As an organization with a focus on the well-being of women, children, and families, the New York Junior League believes this legislation is critical to protecting unaccompanied immigrant children–and is calling for substantial support and action from the New York Governor, Senate, Assembly, and underlying legislative committees for its passage.
The New York Junior League