The family reunification experience is a growing challenge for child welfare advocates, school districts and other service providers here in Northern Virginia and across the country. In the United States, 20% of children are growing up in immigrant homes and a large number of these children joined their parents after years of separation. They come to escape gangs, poverty, violence or political unrest, to reunite with their families, and to find better educational and long-term opportunities. Most have experienced multiple losses: first from their parent(s)’ departure, and then from having to leave the relative they were living with in their home country. According to Family and School Partnerships at Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), children from reunified families may experience issues of rejection, abandonment, resentment, anger, confusion, guilt, grief and loss at being left behind by parents who were trying to create a better life in the US. Parents may face financial challenges and may be unable to support the child in their adjustment to a new country and school. As a result, the child may have academic, attendance, behavioral, communication, socialization or other issues.
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