Opening the Doors to our Shelters

At Southwest Key Programs, we are proud of our work and eager to discuss our experience providing essential care and services to unaccompanied minors who have fled their home countries to seek a better life in the United States. There is no substitute for seeing our work first hand and shelter tours provide important opportunities for us to share what we do with elected officials, regulators, community leaders and other appropriate stakeholders.

Consulates and Their Role in Unification

Minors in our care come from all over the world, but the vast majority are from what’s known as the Northern Triangle: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Each of these countries has a consulate office that functions as a type of satellite office for the country’s main embassy. They handle tasks such as issuing visas, supporting tourists and are typically found in larger cities.

Brothers Bond With a Little Help From Coco the Emotional Support Dog

Brothers Samuel and Diego, 14 and 16 years old, came to the United States from Guatemala. While they were in the care of another shelter, they experienced two failed reunifications that left them both feeling hopeless and upset. They thought they were never going to be unified with a sponsor.

Sofia’s First Time at the Ballet

Sofia learned so much during her first field trip with Casa Campbell. She arrived at the shelter a few days before and had since been looking forward to the special outing with her peers to Ballet Arizona’s “The Nutcracker” at Symphony Hall. With the support and collaboration of Free Arts Arizona, 50 children in Southwest Key care had the opportunity to attend the special show. The field trip was comprised of kids from four of our Arizona shelters. For most of the group, this was their first time at a ballet or hearing a live symphony.

Helping Martha Explore the World

Shopping in the supermarket

Martha arrived at Casa Kokopeli just two months before her 18th birthday. During the intake process, staff learned that Martha spoke an indigenous dialect. She had limited ability to communicate in Spanish or English and was provided a translator. After the first few days of her stay, she demonstrated some unusual behaviors that indicated she would need further clinical evaluation.

Celebrating the Holidays at Casa Blanca

Holidays at Casa Blanca

During the holidays, Southwest Key Programs works to ensure all of the youth in our care enjoy special celebrations, activities and traditional holiday meals. Staff at our shelters take extra care to celebrate various cultural traditions with the children during this time of year, such as La Posada, Noche Buena and Dia del Los Reyes.

Fernando’s First Time in a Classroom

First Time Classroom Experience

Fernando, 16, arrived at Casa Amanecer a bit unsure of what was to come, and hoping he and his 13 year-old-brother had ended up somewhere safe. Both boys had worked as fishermen in their home country of Honduras and had come to the United States in search of their father.

Meet the Casa Padre Emotional Support Dog Team

Nala Casa Padre Emotional Support Dog

At Casa Padre not all of the staff walk on two legs. Eight dogs make up the on-site Emotional Support Team. This program began with an idea from Jeissa Melendez. In addition to her work as a clinician at Southwest Key Programs, Jeissa also specializes in the human-animal bond and volunteers with her therapy dog, Nala. As she worked with youth throughout their reunification process, she saw an opportunity to combine her volunteer work with therapy dogs with her career as a clinician. With approval from Southwest Key leadership and Texas State Licensing, she brought her dog Nala, a Certified Therapy dog, to Casa Padre to begin providing support.

Marissa Petty – Employee Spotlight

Marissa Petty

Marissa began her educational career as a preschool teacher and explored working with elementary and junior high students. During her time as an educator, she learned the value of play at work, positive reinforcement, and how a safe nurturing environment shapes attitudes, socializing, relationships, and educational outcomes.