St. Jerome Emiliani Foster Care

Tens of thousands of refugee youth arrive to the U.S. alone every year, mostly from war-torn countries where they have lost their entire families. Catholic Charities’ St. Jerome Emiliani Foster Care program provides a nurturing environment for unaccompanied refugee children and youth, many who have escaped devastating situations in their native lands. Through foster families and supportive services, we help them heal and thrive.

Our Program

Services Provided

St. Jerome’s is an international foster care program with community homes throughout the Houston metropolitan area. All community homes have the capacity to care for up to five males and/or five females (this includes biological children). Youth in our program differ from youth in domestic foster care as they are usually long-term placements.

Placement Homes
These homes are meant to be long term placement homes for our youth. Youth may come into a placement home once they have been assessed in the assessment home or directly from their previous placement. Youth may be in a placement home until they reunify with family, move into our Supervised Independent Living Program, discharge, or age out of the program.

Respite Homes
These homes provide temporary care to youth in our program when placement foster parents are unable to. These can be on occasions such as vacation, family emergencies, foster parent emergencies, etc. These homes will then care for the youth until their placement foster parents return.

Additional services provided by the program include:

  • Indirect financial support for housing, food, clothing, and other necessities
  • Intensive case management by a social worker
  • Independent living skills training
  • Education/English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Tutoring/mentoring
  • Job skills training and career/college counseling
  • Mental health services
  • On-going family tracing, where possible cultural activities/recreation
  • Special education services, when needed
  • Legal assistance

Minors of all ages who have been designated as a refugee, an asylee, or a victim of human trafficking. The program also serves minors who are in federal custody awaiting designation of status, (i.e., asylum or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status) who require long-term foster care due to the amount of time the legal process takes, varying from 3-36 months.

These youth are referred to us through our funders United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Many of these youth have fled their home country due to war, abuse and neglect, and other violence related crimes. These youth have had adverse experiences and are in need of homes that will provide a therapeutic, safe, and nurturing environment.

Foster Parents

  • Must be at least 25 years old
  • May be single (non cohabitating) or married*
  • Consent to and clear background check
  • Be financially self sufficient
  • Physically and emotionally stable
  • Have adequate living space
  • Attend pre-service training
  • Participate in Home Study

*as defined in our Code of Ethics

Service Area

Due to the capacity of the case management work that is provided to our youth and families, we only service foster homes in the Houston Metropolitan area.


The process in becoming a foster parent can take a minimum of 3 months. This process includes; intake, orientation, training, and a home study. If you are interested in beginning this process, please begin by filling out our online questionnaire.


If you have additional questions or are not interested in becoming a foster parent but want to provide help/volunteer in another capacity, please contact us at 713-874-6501, or email

Frequently Asked Questions

How old are the youth?
While we have the ability to serve youth of all ages, a majority of the youth in our care range from age 11- 21.
Do you have adoption services?
Our program does not offer adoption services because our youth are often too old and already have biological parents (or family) they don’t wish to sever ties with. If a younger youth is placed in your home who is eligible for adoption, we can refer you to an outside agency to help with that process.
How do I know if I am within the Houston Metropolitan Area?
If your address is within 60 miles of our midtown office located at 2900 Louisiana St., Houston, TX 77006, then you are within our service area.
What population do you serve?
We serve youth from all over the world. However, we do see a large population from the Middle East and Central America
Where is the biggest need?
Many of the youth referred to our program are Spanish-speaking teenage males. We do not typically receive younger youth due to the difficult nature of the journey to this country.
Where are the birth families?
Unaccompanied Refugee Minors have been separated from their families. Their families may be in their country of origin, in a refugee camp, or missing. Other family members may be present in the US but unwilling or unable to provide care for the youth. It is important for our program to keep youth connected to their families through phone calls, letters, video chats, and/or visits when possible.
How many hours of training must I complete to become a foster parent and do both my spouse and I have to complete all preservice requirements and training?
There are roughly 50 hours of in person training, including PRIDE training (Parent Resource for Information Development & Education), and 15 hours of online/self-directed training that needs to be completed prior to becoming a foster parent. You are licensed in our program as a couple so all parents in the home must complete all preservice requirements and on-going annual trainings once licensed.
What if both parents work?
Each home licensed with us will specify a backup caregiver to be in the home with the youth when they cannot supervise them. Parents can also enroll their youth in an after-school program for the hours between school ending and when a parent makes it home after work.
How soon are youth placed in the home?
Once a family is verified youth can be placed in the home right away. However, it may take three days to a year for youth to arrive to Texas.
I don't want to be a foster parent, but I want to help. What can I do?

If you are interested in helping this population of youth, there are a few alternatives to becoming a foster parent. You can be a volunteer tutor, or offer to teach a life skill to the youth in our program. If you are interested in any of these options please reach out to us at

Myths vs. Facts

You can be licensed by multiple foster care agencies
Unfortunately, you can only be licensed with one agency at a time. If you have become licensed with another agency you will have to close with them and transfer, as well as go through some of the steps in the process again, since international foster care is different from domestic foster care.
You must speak the same language as the youth in your home
Many of the families in our program do not speak the same language as the youth in their homes. We try our best to match youth linguistically, but it is difficult. However, we do provide 24/7 interpretation services to our foster parents through a language line called MasterWord.
Our program receives youth from Child Protective Services (CPS)
Our program is different from CPS and domestic foster care in many ways. One of them is how we receive our youth. The youth are referred to us through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and we can only accept them into our program if we have a licensed home for them to go to. We do not receive our youth from CPS or any other referral process.
Unaccompanied Refugee Minors are not allowed to travel
We encourage youth in our program to travel with their foster families, especially within the United States. Once the youth receive their Legal Permanent Residency (LPR), they are then allowed to travel outside of the United States with the appropriate documentation and approval.
You must be a two-parent household
We not only welcome married couples into our program, we also welcome single, non-cohabiting individuals!
I must be Catholic to be a part of this program
While our program closely follows the Catholic Social Teachings, we welcome foster parents of many different religions. Our program is one of diversity where you will learn about many different cultures and backgrounds. We want our foster parents to reflect the type of diversity we see with our youth.