Services for Unaccompanied Children (UC) 2: Personnel
Program personnel have the competency and support needed to provide services to meet the needs of children served.
Competency can be demonstrated through education, training, or experience. Support can be provided through supervision or other learning activities to improve understanding or skill development in specific areas.
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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.,
With some exceptions, staff (direct service providers, supervisors, and program managers) possess the required qualifications, including education, experience, training, skills, temperament, etc., but the integrity of the service is not compromised; or
Supervisors provide additional support and oversight, as needed, to the few staff without the listed qualifications; or
Most staff who do not meet educational requirements are seeking to obtain them; or
With few exceptions, staff have received required training, including applicable specialized training; or
Training curricula are not fully developed or lack depth; or
Training documentation is consistently maintained and kept up-to-date with some exceptions; or
A substantial number of supervisors meet the requirements of the standard, and the organization provides training and/or consultation to improve competencies when needed; or
With few exceptions, caseload sizes are consistently maintained as required by the standards or as required by internal policy when caseload has not been set by a standard; or
Workloads are such that staff can effectively accomplish their assigned tasks and provide quality services and are adjusted as necessary; or
Specialized services are obtained as required by the standards.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
A significant number of staff (direct service providers, supervisors, and program managers) do not possess the required qualifications, including education, experience, training, skills, temperament, etc.; and as a result, the integrity of the service may be compromised; or
Job descriptions typically do not reflect the requirements of the standards, and/or hiring practices do not document efforts to hire staff with required qualifications when vacancies occur; or
Supervisors do not typically provide additional support and oversight to staff without the listed qualifications; or
A significant number of staff have not received required training, including applicable specialized training; or
Training documentation is poorly maintained; or
A significant number of supervisors do not meet the requirements of the standard, and the organization makes little effort to provide training and/or consultation to improve competencies; or
There are numerous instances where caseload sizes exceed the standards' requirements or the requirements of internal policy when a caseload size is not set by the standard; or
Workloads are excessive, and the integrity of the service may be compromised; or
Specialized staff are typically not retained as required and/or many do not possess the required qualifications; or
Specialized services are infrequently obtained as required by the standards.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Procedures or other documentation relevant to continuity of care and case assignment
Table of contents of training curricula
Documentation tracking staff completion of required trainings and/or competencies
Sample job descriptions from across relevant job categories
Caseload size requirements set by policy, regulation, or contract, when applicable
Documentation of current caseload size per worker
Interviews may include:
Review personnel files
Direct service personnel have:
a bachelor’s degree in social work or comparable human services field;
the personal characteristics and necessary experience to provide appropriate care to children;
the ability to provide services in a culturally and linguistically sensitive manner;
knowledge and understanding of the issues facing unaccompanied children and their unique care needs; and
the capacity to support family reunification efforts.
The elements of the standard will be considered together to assess implementation. Recruitment of staff with demonstrated competence and with appropriate supervision and specialized training – sometimes available through national certification programs – can compensate for a lack of a bachelor’s degree.
Clinical personnel and personnel who conduct assessments are:
qualified by education, training, supervised experience, licensure or the equivalent; and
trained in child-friendly and trauma-informed interviewing, assessment, observation and other techniques.
Clinical personnel qualifications will vary by position and job responsibilities.
Clinical personnel may also include individuals who are license-eligible and supervised by experienced, licensed staff.
Post-release services case managers are qualified by:
a bachelor’s degree in social work or an equivalent human services field;
skills and competencies in child welfare practices including home studies/visits and family reunification; and
case management experience.
NAThe organization does not provide post-release services.
Post-release services lead case managers are qualified by:
a master’s degree in social work or an equivalent human services field, or a bachelor’s degree in social work or an equivalent human services field and five years of relevant experience;
skills and competencies in child welfare practices including home studies/visits and family reunification;
case management experience; and
specialized training in supervision.
NAThe organization does not provide post-release services.
Lead program staff consist of:
a program director, qualified by an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human services field and five years relevant work experience;
a lead clinician, qualified by an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human services field, or a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of clinical work experience, and licensure; and
a lead case manager, qualified by an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human services field, or a bachelor’s degree and at least three years of supervisory and case management experience.
NA The organization provides post-release services only.
Supervisors are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
addressing and reducing stress, anxiety, secondary traumatic stress, and vicarious trauma;
creating an atmosphere of problem-solving and learning;
offering constructive ways to approach difficult situations with children and their sponsors; and
facilitating regular feedback, growth opportunities, and a structure for ongoing communication and collaboration.
Direct service personnel receive ongoing training and education on:
physical, behavioral, and emotional signs of sexual abuse and methods of preventing and responding to such occurrences;
existing resources for unaccompanied children and accessing services; and
applicable laws and regulations pertaining to the care of unaccompanied children.
Regarding element (c), applicable/relevant laws and regulations include:
the Flores Settlement Agreement;
the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization (TVPRA) of 2008;
the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003; and
the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
Depending on the residents’ needs, the organization ensures that qualified professionals and specialists are available to provide services and supports depending on the program model, population served, and specialized care needs.
Examples: Examples of other services and providers that may be on staff or available through a formal arrangement, include:
medicine and dentistry;
prenatal and postnatal health care, and the developmental needs of children;
prenatal and postpartum depression screenings and care;
physical and developmental disabilities;
speech, occupational and physical therapy;
recreation and expressive therapy;
religion and spirituality.
A physician or other qualified medical practitioner assumes 24-hour on-call medical responsibility.
The standard requires professional medical oversight to ensure that residents’ health needs are identified and promptly addressed. Physicians or other qualified medical practitioners must be familiar with the needs of children served.
COA recognizes that geographic placement and resources can pose barriers. The use of an emergency room or urgent care facility is acceptable for overnight hours when protocols are established. Organizations can also leverage alternative service delivery methods, such as telehealth when regional shortages of certain professional groups make in-person consultation impractical.
The organization minimizes the numbers of workers assigned to the client over the course of their contact with the organization by:
assigning a worker at intake or early in the contact; and
avoiding the arbitrary or indiscriminate reassignment of direct service personnel.
Employee workloads support the achievement of positive outcomes for children served and are regularly reviewed.
For organizations providing residential care, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) recommends that staff-to-case ratios should not exceed 1 to 8 for case managers and 1 to 12 for clinicians.
For organizations providing post-release services, ORR recommends that staff-to-case ratios should not exceed 1 to 30.