Catholic Charities of California has received three consecutive awards from the Department of Social Services to serve unaccompanied, undocumented minors (UUMs) in California, where for decades, Local Catholic Charities Organizations have been providing these services. Most of these children are in crisis; they have survived dire hardships, including abuse, hunger, gang violence, and parental abandonment. Some are victims of sex or labor trafficking.
Catholic Charities services for these children include but are not limited to housing, health services, mental health counseling, case management, and professional legal services. Legal services help UUMs to obtain temporary or permanent legal immigration status. Legal status allows UUMs to remain in the United States, in safe living arrangements and connected to crucial social services.
In 2014, Catholic Charities of California United played an instrumental role in the creation of a new state program which funds highly qualified nonprofit organizations to provide no-cost legal representation for UUMs. The Unaccompanied Undocumented Minors (UUM) Legal Services Program is administered by the California Department of Social Services.
Under the leadership of California Charities of California, these services are provided in Los Angeles, Kern, Santa Barbara, Orange, and San Bernardino. The work being done by Catholic Charities is recognized by the federal Board of Immigration Appeals. This means that they employ BIA-accredited staff—highly trained staff who are authorized by the BIA to practice immigration law.
Catholic Charities has been recognized by the California Department of Social Services as a top-performing contractor for the UUM Legal Services Program.