At Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area, we help children reach their potential, one relationship at a time. A major component of our work is prioritizing child safety and, with that in mind, we seek to be a safe haven for all children and families in the communities we serve. The separation of families recently enforced by our government has not been properly resolved and so we’re compelled to speak to this issue.
The policy of inhumane separation and detention of families creates additional trauma for children and their families who are seeking asylum from desperate situations and it is antithetical to the work we do on behalf of children. As noted by the American Psychiatric Association, policies separating families are ‘highly stressful for children and can cause lifelong trauma, as well as an increased risk of other mental illnesses.’ This is deeply concerning, since we are committed to protecting children from trauma whenever possible, helping them build resilience in the face of trauma through caring relationships and connections with community.
To that end, we feel it is necessary to clearly state our values around the work that we are doing to help children realize their potential:
We believe one-to-one relationships are critical in supporting the safety and well-being of children. We also stand by the fundamental truth that a child’s relationship with his or her parent should be the first priority and longest-term whenever possible, with community mentors providing a collaborative and supportive relationship where they are most needed.
We believe in keeping children safe. We will continue to prioritize the safety of our kids, which includes responsibly guarding the privacy of families. We commit to protecting our Littles, no matter their origins.
We believe in leading with respect, evident through courtesy, kindness, embracing differences and valuing diverse experiences. Imperative to our work is the ability to exercise empathy for the people we serve, understand their struggles and treat everyone with dignity.
We believe that with support, every child can define and achieve success in their lives if given the opportunity.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a safe place for youth, families, volunteers and our community. We will continue to provide service with the utmost respect to confidentiality and promise to continue to uphold our values as a safe haven for our families.
Here are some resources for our Bigs, Littles and Families so that we may better support each other:
- Supporting Young People in the Wake of Violence and Trauma
- A New Lens for Mentoring: Trauma-informed Care
- Immigrant and Refugee Children: A Guide for Educators and School Support Staff
- Talking to kids about children being separated from their families and communities
If you are part of our programs and have additional questions about how to talk to your Big or Little relating to enforced family separation, please contact your Match Support Specialist so that we may assist you.