MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County has received more than 1,200 unaccompanied children between January and September, more than they expected.
Earlier this year, officials anticipated that 3,000 unaccompanied minors would arrive in the region. Now, local jurisdictions have taken in more children than anticipated.
In Montgomery County, D.C., Prince George’s County, and Fairfax County, 4,575 unaccompanied immigrant children arrived this year.
Vice President Gabe Albornoz emphasized that these children fled their country due to civil unrest, the effects of climate change, and other challenges. Albornoz says supporting these children is in the best interest of the entire community.
“We’ve all known for quite some time that the trauma that these students experience both in leaving their countries of origin, but then taking the just absolutely harrowing trek across the border to the United States is extraordinary,” said Albornoz.
Part of this effort includes working with community-based organizations, implementing plans to improve access to healthcare, providing legal services, reinforcing anti-discrimination policies, and expanding school-based services.
“Once in the school we must be prepared to support students at whatever grade level they enter so that they’re ready for their future and position to take advantage of this opportunity,” said MCPS Board President Brenda Wolff.
Councilmember Nancy Navarro suggested creating a newcomer high school to provide educational and social services to these new students.
“The idea of starting to think a little bit more around centralizing some of the supports with the wraparound services seems to me to be more cost-efficient and probably we will see better results,” said Navarro.
To assist in these efforts, a Contract Newcomer Coordinator has been hired, which is funded by a $5.4 million appropriation the council approved in July.