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