Keeping Families Together

Marcelo* came to the United States with his mother when he was only three-years-old. Twelve years later, his mother died and he and his two younger brothers, who were born in the US and are citizens, faced an uncertain future. The three brothers moved in with their grandparents but Marcelo was at-risk for deportation, meaning separation from his only family. Marcelo’s grandparents only spoke Spanish, had limited education and were unsure how to provide for the boys, especially Marcelo’s middle brother who experienced seizures and developmental delays. Luckily, Legal Services for Children, one of Childhood’s nine projects in the USA, was there for Marcelo and his brothers in their time of need. 

Legal Services for Children’s (LSC) holistic model for case management guided Marcelo and his family through  difficult and complicated court procedings. Thanks to the coordinated assistance of the LSC team, Marcelo’s grandparents became his legal guardians, he received his Legal Permanent Residency and received the services he and his brothers needed, such as grief counseling. With his new legal status, Marcelo was able to act as his brother’s “respite care provider” and, with support from the state, could care for his brother at home. LSC’s synchronized strategy between the judicial system, educational system, health care system and government services ensures that the children they serve never fall through the cracks and receive the lives that they deserve.

The support LSC provided to Marcelo and thousands of other children since their founding has allowed them to find safety, stability and reach for a brighter future. Marcelo is now on track to be the first in his family go to college. He knows that he will stay close to home so that he can continue to visit and support his brothers and family. 

*Marcelo’s name has been changed to protect his identity.


Text by: Legal Services for Children, Thomas Brande

Photo Credit: World Childhood Foundation, Philippe Put

The Way Home helped Marina go back to school.

In Ukraine, Childhood supports the The Way Home Organization's “Center of Early Development,” which provides free education and recreational activities to children in need. Through the program, children from disadvantaged families receive support from both The Way Home and the social services in Odessa. Marina, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, is one of the children who have been helped by the organization.

When Marina was just 8 years old, her teacher reached out to The Way Home for help. Marina skipped classes and hid in stairwells near the school. When The Way Home talked to Marina she explained that both her mother and grandmother, who she lived with, were disabled, making it difficult to care for her properly. Marina had to wear old, ragged clothes and was teased by her classmates. No one wanted to play with her. She felt left out when others brought snacks to eat during breaks and gifts from home during the holidays. Marina had even contemplated committing suicide but did not want to abandon her mother.

Today Marina regularly visits The Way Home where she receives support and is able to talk through her problems. Marina’s teacher says that Marina has changed and no longer skips classes. She is still behind in her classes, but has made massive strides. Marina has made friends and is much happier in school. Both her and her mother are extremely grateful for the help this program has given them. 

Four siblings could move back home thanks to the support of their parents.

One of our projects in Lithuania came into contact with four siblings placed in foster care because of the alcohol problems of their parents. After a while, the siblings moved in with their parents again, but it was soon apparent that the parents still had problems with alcohol. The children were therefore moved back once again to the foster home.

One day, the children's mother started going to the organization Atsigrezks parent groups, a project Childhood supports, and eventually began to go even further. The project helps families reunite or at least build loving and supportive relationships. Children and parents participate in games, art classes and seminars on family relationships. Parents also get individual counseling, home visits, and courses in positive parenting.

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Thanks to Atsigrezks,  the children's parents began to work with social services and attended support meetings regularly. The relationships inside the family improved and the parents started to take better care of the home. Soon, the father also got a job. After the parents had been sober for six months, their four children  were able to move back home - this time to a safe environment with parents who were capable of taking care of them.