Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Services for Unaccompanied Children (UC) 13: Transfer of Care and Custody

The organization prepares the child and sponsor for the transfer of care and custody.
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.
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
  • Procedures for transfer of custody within the ORR timeframes
  • Education, training, and informational materials provided to the child and sponsors 
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Children served
    4. Sponsors
  • Review case records


UC 13.01

Age-appropriate services that prepare the child for transfer of custody include: 
  1. counseling to understand and cope with reunification, separation, and/or family loyalty issues;
  2. developing a safety plan to address any outstanding needs and to ensure the child’s safe and successful integration into the sponsor family unit and community; and
  3. support to manage changing roles and relationships.


UC 13.02

Sponsors receive information on and understand the following: 
  1. the process for completing the transfer of custody;
  2. the importance of providing a stable home for the child and creating a path to permanency; and
  3. how to access support services and community resources.


UC 13.03

Sponsors are prepared for the transfer of custody through education, training, and support that address the following, as appropriate: 
  1. attachment and bonding;
  2. changing roles and relationships including sibling relationships;
  3. helping a child cope with separation and loss;
  4. the importance of maintaining connections with the child’s family, when possible and appropriate;
  5. child development and parenting techniques including special considerations for a child’s transition into adolescence;
  6. raising a child of a different race, ethnicity, culture, or religion;
  7. caring for a child with special care needs; and
  8. a history of maltreatment, abuse, neglect, or exploitation including human trafficking.


Educating parents or sponsors on sex and labor trafficking is an important component to prevention, identification, and treatment. Information provided should address how parents can raise their children in an environment free of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, through information on topics, such as internet safety, how to respond when a child runs away, and developing healthy relationships.


UC 13.04

Once the ORR approves an unaccompanied child for release, the care provider collaborates with the sponsor to ensure physical discharge happens as quickly as possible.


The ORR has a timeframe of 3 calendar days after ORR approves this release.