Committed to Change: Migrant Children Deserve Better
We invite you to join us for a panel discussion about the release of the Unaccompanied Children’s Retrospective on June 2, 2023 at the Yale Club!
Our panelists will reflect on the past 20 years of the Unaccompanied Children’s Program and discuss today’s challenges.
About the Retrospective
The Children’s Village and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) present Where We Stand: A 20-Year Retrospective of the Unaccompanied Children’s Program in the United States.
The number of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S. is skyrocketing. At the same time, the current system is failing, and the problem of migrant child exploitation is growing. That’s why The Children’s Village and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants continue to advocate for changes in the migration process, including the need for better federal support for children and their low-income sponsors after the children transition out of migrant shelters.
Thanks to the Federal Family First Prevention Services legislation, domestic children leaving the Federally approved child welfare programs receive 6 months follow-up and support. However, less than 30% of migrant children served in Federal programs the same follow-up support and services after their release. That is reprehensible.
Where We Stand: A 20-Year Retrospective of the Unaccompanied Children’s Program in the United States is a new piece that reviews the Unaccompanied Children’s Program from the passage of the Homeland Security Act (HSA) of 2002 until now. It assesses 20 years of legislation, policies, litigation, and, most importantly, the U.S. federal government’s care of unaccompanied migrating children, with a view toward the next steps and improvements for the years ahead.
It is important to note that over the past two decades, federal agencies, Congress, and nonprofit and advocacy organizations enhanced the program as it grew. Many of these changes resulted in a better system of care for unaccompanied children, but there is still much work to be done.
The retrospective details six recommendations to better support these vulnerable children:
- Make post-release services for all unaccompanied children a legal requirement.
- Require the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to appoint child advocates for the most vulnerable children.
- Allocate funding so all unaccompanied children released from ORR custody have attorneys.
- Expand the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program.
- Develop new and creative support programs for unaccompanied children after release.
- Ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Together, the U.S. Committee for Refugees Immigrants and The Children’s Village will continue to highlight past experiences and use them to guide ongoing work with unaccompanied children so that all children can move through their journeys in safety, with their rights protected, and with hope for their futures.
To learn more, please take a look at the Executive Summary and read the Retrospective.