Strengthening Services for Unaccompanied Children in U.S. Communities

Mark Greenberg, Kylie Grow, Stephanie Heredia, Kira Monin and Essey Workie
Date of Publication: 
June, 2021
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

In the spring of 2021, a record number of unaccompanied children arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border, highlighting the need for improvements to the system of post-release services for these children. In the Migration Policy Institute’s report Strengthening Services for Unaccompanied Children in U.S. Communities, the authors examine the process of the release of unaccompanied minors from federal custody to sponsors, detailing how federal post-release services address the needs of these minors. The authors also discuss insights gleaned from interviews and convenings with 31 service providers in 2020. One key finding is that legal services in immigration proceedings are especially vital for children given their unique vulnerability but that funding to provide these services is extremely limited. Given the increase in arrivals and the call to expedite the release of unaccompanied children from federal custody, the authors recommend a series of concrete steps to improve available community services, including actions at the federal, state and local government levels, and through private philanthropy. One such recommendation is for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to develop a set of metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of post-release programs. Other recommendations pertain to more effective communication between shelter staff and community service providers. The authors also urge state and local offices of new Americans to play a coordinating and convening role, perhaps identifying service gaps that can be addressed locally. These and other steps will, the authors believe, help improve outcomes for the unaccompanied children, their families, schools and the communities they live in during immigration proceedings. (Erika Hernandez for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)


Greenberg, M., Grow, K., Heredia, S., Monin, K., & Workie, E. (2021, June). Strengthening Services for Unaccompanied Children in U.S. Communities. Migration Policy Institute.