The untold stories of refugees is one that is being shared in Livingston County, as a nonprofit organization works to raise awareness about the need for refugee foster care families in the area.

The common “expectations” surrounding refugees that flee to America don’t always cover the full scope of the crisis, according to Kayla Park, Refugee Capacity Builder for the Samaritas Refugee Foster Care Program. Park says while children being separated from their families at the Mexico border and the Syrian refugee crisis are tragedies, there are even more stories that aren’t making headlines. Park says the Samaritas Refugee Foster Care Program works with youth from all over the world that have fled their home country, but that many of the refugees they serve are teenagers fleeing gang violence in Central America and the horn of Africa.

The refugees have either lost or have been permanently separated from their families, sometimes orphaned, or cannot return home for their own personal safety. The Refugee Foster Care Program helps to resettle the youth in the United States with families that can provide a safe place and personal connection, while the individual works to develop independent living skills until they can no longer be in foster care at the age of 21. Park says the nation’s capacity to bring the minors out of refugee camps and shelters is really dependent on the families that step up to foster.

Families who want to foster become licensed through the state, while the program provides services to the individual. Park says there’s been an increased interest in Livingston County, adding it's a great location for potential refugee foster care families because it’s located between the program’s two main areas of service- Ann Arbor and Lansing.

Park says the program is always willing to hold informational sessions for groups, and is open to doing one-on-one sessions as well. She encourages interested parties to email her at In addition to fostering, Park says the program offers other opportunities to help, like serving as a host family, mentor or tutor. You can find more information about the program at the link below. (DK)