The tiny feet of a barefoot child resting on a colorful play mat in a child-friendly space are visible under a red blanket. The child’s feet are covered in dirt. Some children and families crossing the U.S. border have walked for several days and have not bathed, are hungry, sick and exhausted. Save the Children is running child-friendly spaces and children’s play areas at transit shelters in New Mexico for children once they leave detention facilities. Photo credit: Caroline Trutmann Marconi/ Save the Children, Nov 2018.

Some families crossing the U.S. Border have walked for 20 days straight. Their children haven’t bathed, they’re hungry, some are sick, they haven’t had a good night’s sleep, and they haven’t played for many weeks. Basic hygiene items like soap and toothbrushes are essential not only to keeping children healthy, but to protecting their emotional well-being.

U.S. Border Crisis Children's Relief Fund
We urgently need your help to reach every last child in need. A donation to our U.S. Border Crisis Children’s Relief Fund will support our programmatic and advocacy work at the border and ensure that children at the border are being treated with care and kindness. Photo credit: Jonathan Hyams / Save the Children.

Wondering How to Help Migrant Children at the Border? Here’s What You Can Do.

Report from the U.S.-Mexico border have not only broken our hearts, they have flooded the media, influenced the Democratic presidential primary debates and moved countless concerned citizens to ask, “What can I do to help children in need?”

Here are some ways that you can become and stay involved in the call to help migrant children:

Learn About the Issues that Families Crossing the Border May be Facing in Their Home Countries

A complex mix of social and economic factors has caused families and unaccompanied children to flee their homes in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Violence, brutal gangs and entrenched poverty are among the top reasons migrants cite for seeking safety and protection in the United States.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, where child homicide rates are highest in the world, violent criminal activity has been on the rise for the past decade.[i] Sadly, nearly 70 children in this region die each and every day due to interpersonal violence. This homicide rate is over three times the global average.

In communities where gang activity is prevalent, the fear of gangs prevents young people from holding jobs. The same fear prevents students from going to school. In El Salvador alone, nearly 40,000 children dropped out of school in 2015, primarily out of concern for their own safety.[ii]

As the parent of a young child, the decision to leave your home country can be a matter of life or death. Older children who are still vulnerable yet increasingly aware of their own mortality are deciding to flee on their own, leaving everything behind, including the only family they’ve ever known, for a chance to live another day.

The fear is so great and the desire to escape harm so urgent that asylum seekers are reaching the U.S.-Mexico border has reached unprecedented numbers. Apprehensions of migrants at the border to date in 2019 are running far above the numbers in any recent year.

Speak Up About the Treatment of Children and Families Migrating from Central American Nations

As children’s rights continue to be violated at the border, Save the Children cannot and will not remain silent.

Families and children who’ve undertaken the harrowing and dangerous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border are being held in prison-like detention facilities never intended to serve large groups of families or young children. Boys and girls are often held in horrific conditions for extended periods of time, without enough food and without access to basic services and care.

Families who have a credible fear of danger in their home countries are processed and released with notices to appear before an immigration judge for a hearing that may be several years away. They are taken to bus stations or transit shelters in U.S. border communities, where they are left to fend for themselves.

Save the Children upholds the rights of children, and you can join us.

Together with our advocacy partner, Save the Children Action Network, Save the Children is advocating to ensure children’s rights are upheld and families are afforded protection under U.S. and international laws. We are also calling for the root causes of the crisis to be addressed.

We have already generated more than 63,600 messages to the Administration and members of Congress this year speaking out against a bill to extend the time children can be detained, conditions in detention centers and supporting more funding for services including education, recreation and legal aid programs. Our work will continue as long as children’s rights aren’t fully realized or protected.

Support Our Work at the U.S. Border

Save the Children’s work along the border began five years ago during a similar surge in migration.

As the U.S. leader in child-focused disaster preparedness, response and recovery, we are the only national response agency working in transit shelters, focused on the unique needs of children.

In Deming, New Mexico, our teams are providing child-friendly spaces in two shelters so that children have safe, designated areas to play, socialize, take a respite from the stress and receive psychological and emotional support from trained adults. We are also supporting mothers with very young children who need a safe, clean and quiet place to care for and feed their children.

We’re also helping partners deliver immediate humanitarian aid to children and families by providing hygiene kits, comfort items and clothing – all of which children and mothers desperately need.

But we can’t do any of this important work without the support and the generosity of our donors. A donation to our U.S. Border Crisis Children’s Relief Fund will support our programmatic and advocacy work at the border and ensure that children at the border are being treated with care and kindness.

Sponsor a Child in El Salvador

Since 1980, Save the Children in El Salvador has worked with local communities and organizations to design Sponsorship programs for kids. Targeted to help children from early childhood to early adulthood, our programs work to make a healthy and safe environment where children can learn and grow.

In 2018, we continued to collaborate with community partners and provide lifesaving resources to children and families.

Our sponsors help us nurture healthy moms and healthy babies as well, by providing access to high-impact, low-cost care, working to stop preventable deaths in both mothers and children.

By sponsoring a child in El Salvador, you can help save a life.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. To learn more about our work at the border, visit

[i] 2018 End of Childhood Report

[ii] 2018 End of Childhood Report


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