On August 12, 2014, Lutheran Services of Georgia hosted the Summit For Our Children. Organized by the Alterna Community and convened by Alterna co-founder Anton Flores-Maisonet, the Summit For Our Children was a compassionate, just, and timely response to the crises of unaccompanied children and the children of immigrant parents, especially mothers, who are detained or deported.
Representatives of eleven groups and organizations traveled to downtown Atlanta to exchange resources and ideas for responding to the needs of migrant children. Participants included Access to Law Foundation, Alterna, Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment, Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services, Covenant House of Georgia, Dekalb County Schools, DHS Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, Jubilee Partners, Lutheran Services of Georgia, and Welcoming America.
LSG’s President and CEO Floyd R. Blair welcomed the participants and Anton shared his motivations for organizing the summit. Through showing hospitality, the Alterna Community is intimately connected with the struggles of immigrants in the United States. Anton expressed that, over the past several years, Alterna has become increasingly concerned with how current immigration policies harm vulnerable families and children. He wanted to bring together passionate, concerned people to develop a cohesive response to this crisis.
Each group described their current work with and knowledge of migrant children. What emerged was a picture of the diverse array of services already available, including legal representation and consultations for unaccompanied children, short-term and long-term foster care, alternatives to detention, houses of hospitality for immigrants and refugees, local and national advocacy efforts, trauma services, and more.
Attendees formed three discussion groups to explore opportunities for collaboration. Together, they brainstormed ways to educate the community about migrant children, provide housing and support services, and mobilize faith-based and other communities for action. Each group presented their ideas and began making the necessary plans to make those ideas a reality.
Participants in the Summit For Our Children recognized that responding effectively to the needs of vulnerable populations requires continued dialogue and collaboration. LSG thanks Anton Flores-Maisonet and the Alterna Community for bringing together groups and organizations committed to supporting migrant children.
Click here to see more photos from the Summit.