Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Services for Unaccompanied Children (UC) 12: Home Study

The home study process builds on the sponsor assessment and determines the sponsor’s ability to care for the child and meet his or her needs.
NA The organization does not provide home studies.
NA The organization provides post-release services only.
2020 Edition




Unaccompanied Children Services support youth safety and well-being, facilitate family involvement and provide necessary supports to children seeking physical and emotional safety and legal protection.
Note: Home studies of potential sponsors are conducted in accordance with applicable federal laws and regulations and when deemed necessary to ensure health, safety, and well-being of the unaccompanied child. While not every child will receive a home study, the organization should have the capacity to provide a home study to those that do. 

If the organization does not provide home studies directly, it should document all participation in the home study process and any collaborative efforts with the home study provider in the case record.

Note: The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) requires a home study under the following circumstances:
  1. when a non-relative sponsor is seeking to sponsor multiple children, or has previously sponsored or sought to
  2. sponsor a child and is seeking to sponsor additional children; and 
  3. when the child is under the age of 12 and the sponsor is not a family member/relative.
Aside from federal laws and regulations, a home study may also be conducted if additional information is needed to determine whether the sponsor is able to provide necessary care to the child, as determined by the organization during the sponsor assessment process.
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.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Home study procedures
  • Home study tool
  • Procedures for background checks
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
  • Review case records


UC 12.01

The information gathered for home studies is limited to material pertinent to sponsorship.


UC 12.02

Home study assessments are conducted in a culturally-responsive manner and identify potential strengths and opportunities to promote service participation and success.


UC 12.03

The home study builds on the sponsor assessment and confirms: 
  1. the relationship between the sponsor and the child;
  2. the child’s relationship to individuals already living in the home;
  3. the sponsor’s cultural sensitivity and willingness to support the child’s cultural ties; and
  4. the sponsor’s commitment to the child.

Fundamental Practice

UC 12.04

The home study explores the sponsor’s ability to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the child and includes an assessment of: 
  1. the sponsor’s ability to meet the needs of the child;
  2. the family’s ability to support the child;
  3. the needs of children already living in the home;
  4. the sponsor’s physical and mental health status; and
  5. the sponsor’s level of education, employment, and financial status.


UC 12.05

Home study case managers: 
  1. identify necessary resources and supports for successful sponsorship;
  2. provide psychoeducation services; and
  3. educate and prepare the potential sponsor for caretaking responsibilities.

Fundamental Practice

UC 12.06

The home study is a collaborative process to determine if the placement is appropriate and includes:
  1. one or more visits to the sponsor’s home;
  2. in-person interviews with the sponsor and other individuals living in the home;
  3. reference checks;
  4. criminal background and child abuse and neglect registry checks for all adults living in the home according to applicable federal and state requirements; and
  5. preparation of a home study report with a recommendation regarding the sponsor’s ability to meet the needs of the child.


The case manager can consider additional information offered by the sponsor after they review the home study. The organization should develop criteria for the review of criminal background checks that specifies how the organization evaluates and responds to reports indicating criminal offenses. Sponsors should be informed of the organization’s policy regarding criminal convictions at the beginning of the process and that the ORR may require additional checks, verification, or procedures for sponsors if there are any unresolved issues or questions related to the well-being of the child.


Regarding element (e), the final recommendation must present a comprehensive and detailed assessment of the sponsor’s ability to care for the needs of the child and address any additional information that emerges during the course of the home study regarding the sponsor, the sponsor’s household, or the child.