The estimated number of unaccompanied, juvenile immigrants in APS jumped from 10 children last school year to “approximately” 80 children this school year so far, the district said Friday.
The release of the APS data on youth age 18 and under who travelled without a parent or guardian follows a national report on unaccompanied minors issued this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That report stated that through July 31, 133 unaccompanied minors were transferred to the care of family members or other sponsors in Arlington County.
The 133 count potentially includes youth below school age, in private schools, home schooled or not enrolled in school, APS pointed out.
APS served enough young, recent immigrants in the 2013-2014 school year to be eligible for an additional $43,000 in state funding, the APS statement said. The school system saw an increase of 141 immigrant students from the ’12-’13 to ’13-’14 school year, the statement said. These youth range in age from 3 to 21, were born outside the U.S. and had not attended school in the country for more than three academic years. This category includes but is not exclusive to youth who came to the U.S. unaccompanied.
Additionally, APS has devoted additional resources this school year to students who have had little formal schooling and read below grade level in any language.
The Arlington Career Center reinstituted a previously offered “Accelerated Literacy” program that draws high school students from across the county. Two more teachers were hired, and funds were redirected to serve youth in this program, according to the statement.
Washington-Lee High School is also offering the literacy curriculum. Additional literacy support is available to elementary and middle school students, the statement said.
The county Dept. of Human Services connects youth and their sponsors with medical and behavior health care, English classes, legal aid and limited emergency funds, spokesman Kurt Larrick said. Like all new APS students, unaccompanied minors new to the district are screened for tuberculosis and required to have a set of immunizations, he added.
The HHS report noted that many of the unaccompanied youth have survived trauma.
“These children may have histories of abuse or may be seeking safety from threats of violence,” it said. “They may have been trafficked or smuggled.”
School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez said in July that APS should prepare for a “crisis situation” in providing services to unaccompanied minors. County Board member Walter Tejada said then that Arlington was preparing to serve them.
APS does not request and is not required by law to ask students to report their immigration status, the statement said.