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For Immediate Release
February 23, 2015

NEW YORK STATE OFFICE FOR NEW AMERICANS, IMMIGRANT ADVOCATES AND PHILANTHROPIC ORGANIZATIONS ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP TO INCREASE COMMUNITY SERVICES FOR RECENTLY ARRIVED CENTRAL AMERICAN CHILDREN ON LONG ISLAND

Public and Private Funding to Increase Access to Needed Services, Including Number of Attorneys Able to Handle Cases and Support Children and Families in the Communities Where They Live

The New York State Office for New Americans, immigrant advocacy service providers and philanthropic organizations on Long Island today announced a public-private partnership to increase the availability of needed community services for recently arrived Central American children. The partnership will combine public and private funding to increase legal services and coordination to maximize the resources and effectively support these children and their families in the communities where they live.

“The State of New York has a long history of welcoming people from all around the world and it is our moral and civic responsibility to help defenseless children and their families during difficult times,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “I want to thank all the groups involved in this partnership for stepping up to make an invaluable difference. The Office for New Americans is proud to support these children so that they can eventually contribute to our State’s civic and economic life.”

“Since last summer, the New York Immigration Coalition has been proud to partner with allies on the ground in Long Island to support these most vulnerable of immigrants – refugee children,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “This new private-public partnership represents the best of what New Yorkers can offer: government and communities standing together, strong, to support our newest New Yorkers and ensuring that they can become a part of the proud immigrant tradition of our State.”

2014 saw record numbers of unaccompanied children arriving in the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala fleeing war and violence, with New York State receiving the second-highest number of children of any state in the country and Nassau and Suffolk Counties receiving the highest number of children in the State.

This partnership will leverage public and private resources to provide comprehensive support for these children and a cost-effective way to get funding where it is most needed. Funders, collaborating through the Long Island Immigrant Children’s Fund, will combine resources and work with not-for-profit partners on Long Island to collectively develop the best strategies for helping these children. These funders and grant-making institutions – the Hagedorn Foundation, the Long Island Community Foundation, the Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund (funded through the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock), the Rauch Foundation, and the Sisters of St. Joseph) – have pooled resources and expect a total of approximately $500,000 going toward legal, mental health and educational services in 2015. This total includes $49,400 from the New York State Office for New Americans and leverages funds awarded to the New York Immigration Coalition and Equal Justice Works from the federal justice Americorps program and Equal Justice Works. Not-for-profit service providers involved in the partnership include the Central American Refugee Center, the Touro Law Center, Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, the Safe Passage Project, the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island and the New York Immigration Coalition.

“Children arriving on Long Island from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are fleeing violence that is unimaginable for most Americans and are reuniting with family members who already live here,” said Sandra Dunn, Program Director, Hagedorn Foundation, speaking on behalf of Long Island funders participating in this partnership. “This public-private partnership will help ensure that many of these children never have to leave their families again or return to violent situations. In keeping with American values, participating funders believe we should welcome, support, and protect these children.”

“The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island is honored to help coordinate the efforts of these providers of legal services with over 100 other non-profit organizations and advocates assisting newly arrived children,” said Gwen O’Shea, Chief Executive Officer and President, Health and Welfare Council of Long Island.

"The State and the funding community have stepped in to help these vulnerable child refugees seek justice,” said Patrick Young, Program Director, Central American Refugee Center. “The need is tremendous, but this is an important start in providing representation to children fleeing persecution by gangs."

Learn more about ONA by visiting the ONA website at www.newamericans.ny.gov , liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NYSNewAmericans, joining the conversation on Twitter at @NYSNewAmericans (Hashtag: #NYSNewAmericans), and viewing our photos on Instagram (www.instagram.com/NYSNewAmericans) . Information and referrals are also available through the toll- free, multi-lingual New York State New Americans Hotline at: 1-800-566-7636.

 

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Contact:

Laz Benitez/Edison Alban (NYS Office for New Americans) 212-417-5803

Thanu Yakupitiyage (New York Immigration Coalition) 212-627-2227, x235