Refugee Resettlement Services (RRS) 7: Services for Separated Refugee Minor Children
The organization ensures that children who have experienced migration, trauma, and family separation and loss receive the comprehensive services necessary to:
obtain a safe, healthy, and stable living arrangement;
develop supportive relationships;
make a positive personal and social adjustment; and
gain the cross-cultural skills and understanding of their new country and community to maintain their ethnic identity and move forward with long-term acculturation.
Special care and attention should be given to refugee minor children who have been separated from their biological or legally adoptive parents, including those who are being resettled with relative caregivers or being reunited with biological or legally adoptive parents after long periods of separation. Within the context of U.S. resettlement, separated refugee children, also known as attached refugee minors, are resettled with the assistance of the adult/family refugee resettlement programs.
Refugee minor children are categorized by their relationships with those whom they are traveling with and their ultimate resettlement circumstances. This section of standards is applicable to the following groups of refugee minors:
Minors traveling with and resettling with blood relatives other than biological or legally adoptive parents;
Minors traveling with and resettling with non-relatives and minors traveling alone to join non-relatives;
Minors traveling apart from but destined to join biological or legally adoptive parent(s). This includes minors traveling alone to join parent(s) in the U.S., minors traveling with relatives other than parents to join parent(s) in the U.S., and minors traveling with non-relatives to join parent(s) in the U.S.;
Minors traveling apart from the blood relative(s) (other than parents) they are destined to join. This includes minors traveling alone to join a relative (not parent) in the U.S. and minors traveling with non-relatives to join a relative (not parent) in the U.S.; and
Minors who are married regardless of their traveling companions or U.S.-based relatives.
Unaccompanied refugee minors who are eligible for resettlement in the U.S., but do not have a responsible adult (e.g., biological parent or blood relative) available and committed to providing for their long term care are placed in the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program and receive culturally appropriate foster care services and benefits. While most children enter into a licensed foster home, children can be placed in other licensed care settings depending on their individual needs, such as group homes, residential treatment centers, and independent living programs. Services for unaccompanied refugee minors resettling within ORR’s URM program will be reviewed under the applicable service section to better address the full range of services made available to this population. Relevant applicable service sections include, Unaccompanied Children Services, Family Foster Care and Kinship Care, Residential Treatment Services, and Group Living Services.
Unaccompanied alien children (UAC), also known as undocumented minors, who are apprehended by immigration officials, do not have lawful immigration status in the U.S. and are not in the care of a parent or legal guardian at the time of apprehension. As a result, these children are placed in the custody and care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) Division of Children Services/Unaccompanied Alien Children program which makes and implements all placement and service decisions, including family reunification with sponsors in the U.S. when possible. Since the process by which these children come into care and the services they are eligible to receive differ from refugee minor children, RRS 8 is not applicable to UAC.
NAThe organization does not provide services for separated refugee minor children.
Currently viewing: REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT SERVICES (RRS)
Refugees acquire the cross-cultural information, skills, and social support network needed to gain stability, make a positive personal and social adjustment, maintain family connections and well-being, and achieve educational, economic and civic participation goals.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
Procedures need strengthening; or
With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
Timeframes are often missed; or
Several client records are missing important information; or
Client participation is inconsistent.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.
Procedures for obtaining and reviewing official documentation
Placement assessment and reassessment procedures
Community resource and referral list
Information provided to caregivers
Interviews may include:
Review case records
Prior to intake, the organization receives and reviews official documentation for every child, including biographical data, migration history, and information regarding family relationships and considerations for resettlement.
Biographical data refers to the child’s age, country of origin, gender, primary language, and/or country prior to migration.
The organization ensures children are placed in a safe, stable living arrangement by conducting a suitability assessment before or upon the child’s arrival to the U.S that:
verifies the identity of the caregiver in cases involving a long period of separation;
evaluates the nature and extent of any previous relationship with the child;
considers the housing space, safety, and financial stability of the placement; and
is updated on an ongoing basis to assess family dynamic suitability and placement stability.
In family breakdown situations, where the caregiver is unable or unwilling to care for the child, the organization should identify the most appropriate living situation, including possible reclassification to the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) foster care program, if necessary.
Care extends beyond crisis stabilization to promote long-term acculturation and includes, when possible, specialized legal, social, education, mental health and healthcare services, that:
assist the child in ascertaining the whereabouts of family members and identify opportunities for family reunification;
determine the child’s cultural attitudes and values about family obligations and expression of thoughts and feelings, suffering, and pride;
treat observed behavior associated with age-appropriate difficulties;
assess physical, mental, and dental health and provide referrals for ongoing services, as needed;
encourage the preservation of the child’s ethnic and religious heritage; and
promotes positive adjustment and the achievement of personal goals.
Examples: Programs that develop bicultural skills could include: weekend or community schools that teach language, arts, culture, and history of the country of origin; summer camps that promote social integration; and ethnic teams, cultural societies, or community associations with common social or recreational activities.
The organization helps caregivers anticipate, prepare for, and mitigate distresses of separated refugee minor children by providing them with information about:
the nature and expectations of U.S. practices regarding child rearing, including child abuse and neglect laws and the requirements for obtaining legal guardianship;
promising practices for care of children who are resettling with relative caregivers or who are reuniting with biological or legally adoptive parents after long periods of separation;
how to help refugee children develop and maintain positive bicultural identities;
resilience and risk factors;
reasons for family separation unrelated to abuse and neglect; and
difficulties children may have due to different views or misunderstandings about the role of a new family and feelings of family loyalty, as appropriate.