WHO ARE UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN?

Unaccompanied children (UC) are children ages 0-17 who cross the U.S. border. Many UCs travel to the U.S. because they are escaping violence, gangs, war, and threats in their home country. Other UCs are victims of labor or sex trafficking and are seeking refuge. UCs are without lawful status and without an accompanying parent or legal guardian.

Most UC’s are seeking reunification with their sponsor (i.e. parents, relatives, close family friends, or other individuals). UCs are placed under care of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR). Children are placed in facilities such as a shelter facility, foster care or group home. Once sponsors complete the application process and approval is obtained, children are able to reunify with their sponsor.


WHAT IS HOME STUDY?

The purpose of a home study is to:

  • Assess the potential sponsor’s ability to meet the child’s needs

  • Educate and prepare the potential sponsor for the child’s release; and

  • Corroborate information gathered on the sponsor assessment.

  • Assess the safety of the home environment.


REASONS WHY A CHILD MAY BE REFERRED TO HOME STUDY

1. TRAFFICKING VICTIMS PROTECTION REAUTHORIZATION ACT (TVPRA) MANDATORY HOME STUDIES.

The TVPRA requires home studies in the following circumstances:

  • The child is a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons;

  • The child is a special needs child with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (42 U.S.C. § 12102);

  • The child has been a victim of physical or sexual abuse under circumstances that indicate that the child’s health or welfare has been significantly harmed or threatened; or

  • The child’s sponsor clearly presents a risk of abuse, maltreatment, exploitation, or trafficking, to the child based on all available objective evidence.

2. ORR MANDATED HOME STUDIES

ORR requires a home study before releasing any child to a sponsor in the following circumstances:

  • The potential sponsor is seeking to concurrently sponsor two or more children (regardless of whether the potential sponsor has previously sponsored or sought to sponsor a child) and at least one of the children is unrelated to the potential sponsor;

  • The potential sponsor has previously been the sponsor of two or more children and is now seeking to sponsor one or more additional children (regardless of whether the previous or current children are related to the potential sponsor); or

  • The potential sponsor is seeking to sponsor an unrelated child who is 12 years or under.

3. DISCRETIONARY HOME STUDIES

  • In circumstances in which a home study is not required by the TVPRA or ORR policy, the case manager, and case coordinator may recommend that a home study be conducted if they agree that the home study may provide additional information to determine that the sponsor is able to care for the health, safety and well-being of the child. The care provider must inform the potential sponsor whenever a home study is conducted, explain the scope and purpose of the study and answer the potential sponsor’s questions about the process. In addition, the care provider must provide the home study report to the potential sponsor if the release request is denied.


POST-RELEASE SERVICES

  • Offered by the Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR)

  • Aids in the safety and well-being of unaccompanied children (UC) upon release from ORR’s custody to their sponsor in the U.S.

  • Helps by connecting children and their sponsors to resources within the community

  • Provided across all 50 states in the U.S.

  • Provided through a trauma care informed approach

  • Explain trauma informed care (definition: approach used to promote safety, empowerment, and healing) It aims to reduce re-traumatization and foster resiliency.


COMPREHENSIVE YOUTH SERVICES

Case Managers support youth and their families on their path to success by providing resources such as:

EDUCATION
Helping enroll the child in school, after school programs, tutoring, GED classes, and etc.

LEGAL
Referrals to free or low cost immigration attorneys.

PHYSICAL HEALTH
Resources to free or low cost health care, free or low cost clinics, list of local hospitals, prenatal care services, or pediatric services.

MENTAL HEALTH
Referrals to mental health services i.e. counseling or psychiatric services .

SAFETY
Who to contact during an emergency i.e. 9-1-1 or local law enforcement.

COMMUNITY
Providing resources in their local community such as local food banks, support groups, methods of transportation, i.e. how to obtain a bus/train pass.

RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL SERVICES
I.e. local church or worship center.

POST-18 INTEGRATION
provide resources to children who will be turning 18 years old.


STATISTICS PROVIDED BY ORR

Age

Age breakdown of unaccompanied children by fiscal year (October 1—September 30)

Country of Origin

The top three countries of origin with the highest percentage of children in FY2023 were from Guatemala, followed by Honduras and El Salvador.

Gender

The top three countries of origin with the highest percentage of children in FY2023 were from Guatemala, followed by Honduras and El Salvador.

Home Studies and Post-Release Services

Number of home studies conducted by ORR and number of unaccompanied children served by post-release services (PRS)

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Your donations allow us to bring valuable services to children and families throughout Southern California. Thank you for helping McKinley continue our mission, as we recognize and celebrate the unique contributions each individual makes to our community.

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