Supporting Unaccompanied Children in the U.S. Communities Where They Live
Mark Greenberg, Senior Fellow and Director of Human Services Initiative, Migration Policy Institute (MPI)
Stephanie Heredia, Research Assistant, MPI
Matt Haygood, Director of Children’s Services, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Kate Reen, Director of Youth Initiatives, Northern Virginia Family Service
Marcela M. Ruiz, Director of the Office of Equity, California Department of Social Services
Essey Workie, Senior Policy Analyst, MPI
Early 2021 saw record-setting numbers of unaccompanied children arriving at the southwest border, accompanied by much public scrutiny over their care while in federal custody. Less attention has been paid, however, to what happens once the children are released from federal custody into the care of family or other sponsors in communities across the United States. While the minors await immigration proceedings, what case management, legal services, and federal follow-up exist? What are local communities doing to support these children and what challenges persist?
This webinar features findings from a recent MPI report examining the process of releasing children to sponsors, the current structure of federal post-release services, and the most significant needs these children and their U.S. sponsors experience. The discussion considered what the recent increase in arrivals means for the children, the communities where they live, and schools they attend. Speakers explored efforts by philanthropic, state, and local actors to address the needs of this population and their communities, what service gaps exist, and key recommendations to improve access to services.