Girasol strives to help Texas immigrant children and families to heal from trauma through support, education, and connection. Girasol is housed in the Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing at the University of Texas at Austin and works with community partners to support immigrants by providing services to women and children both during and post-detention, educate service providers and students on migration and trauma, and connect community members with resources. Click below to visit the official Girasol Texas website for the lates updates and resources!
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Current Girasol Projects:
Support – Girasol supports immigrant children and families in healing from trauma through direct services.
The Social Work Detention Response Team collaborates with RAICES and the UT Immigration Law Clinic to provide legal support services to immigrant women and children in detention. Interdisciplinary teams of social work and law students orient migrants to the credible fear interview and asylum system, assist in their preparation for the interview, and provide emotional support to women and children undergoing this process. The team has served an average of 15 women per month for two years.
The Social Work Detention Response Team will also begin a collaboration with Catholic Charities and RAICES in the fall of 2018. The purpose of this new project is to train and bring volunteers to McAllen and San Antonio, Texas to provide direct support to individuals and families, including those separated at the border. This program will also provide processing groups and other mental health supports to the lawyers working directly with individuals and families. The team will bring volunteers for three trips per year (lasting one week each) to McAllen, monthly trips (lasting one day each) to the migrant shelter at RAICES in San Antonio, and will collaborate with Catholic Charities to train volunteers from around the country as they head toward the border to provide support.
Girasol’s support groups program use the model of Supporting Women in Detention, developed by the YWCA Greater Austin. This group provides therapeutic support to women in detention once per week. The support group has served over 2,500 women in five years. In collaboration with the YWCA Greater Austin, Girasol works to implement the model in new groups, both in and out of detention centers.
Educate – Girasol educates providers on the impact of trauma and migration by providing skills and consultation.
Girasol offers trainings for lawyers, social service providers, and educators. In collaboration with TAASA, trauma trainings are provided to immigration lawyers to mitigate the risks of re-traumatization in the asylum process. Trainings on working with undocumented individuals and mixed-status families are provided to service providers so as to better understand trauma within the immigrant experience. Trainings are also provided in collaboration with undocumented college student organizers in the University Leadership Initiative to educators regarding the support of undocumented students and families in the public school system.
Girasol also brings together mental health professionals for trainings on writing letters of support and serving as expert witnesses for immigration relief cases. The aim of this project is to create a network of trained professionals able to provide expertise for the cases of individuals and families seeking asylum, U visas, and T visas.
Connect – Girasol connects providers and immigrant children and families with culturally responsive resources.
Navegando Austin is a website that compiles resources accessible to the undocumented community in Austin, Texas. The website is available for service providers and clients and includes comprehensive information regarding how to receive services at each agency. The aim of this project is to create trust in the community regarding the accessibility of services, which decreased following ICE raids. This project works in tandem with the training initiatives, as service providers are encouraged to learn more about serving the immigrant community and collaborate with Navegando Austin to increase their accessibility to clients.
Every project in the Girasol initiative, including the role of coordinator, is currently unfunded. Each project runs purely on volunteer support and the contributions of individuals who give their time, money, and energy to maintain their existence. With funding, these programs would each be able to realize their full potential and reach the community on a larger scale.