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Immigration & Child Welfare

  Teleconferences, Webinars, Webcasts & Videos    

*Many of these resources were developed previously by the National Resource Center for
Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC).

  Informational & Practice Publications, Resources, & Tools    
  • 11064.1: Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Civil Immigration Enforcement Activities
    This U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Directive establishes ICE policy and procedures to address the placement, monitoring, accommodation, and removal of certain alien parents. The Directive is particularly concerned with the placement, monitoring, accommodation, and removal of alien parents or legal guardians who are: 1) primary caretakers of minor children without regard to the dependent’s citizenship; 2) parent and legal guardians who have a direct interest in family court proceeding involving a minor or child welfare proceedings in the United States; and 3) parents or legal guardians whose minor children are U.S. citizens (USCs) or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) . This Directive is intended to complement the immigration enforcement priorities and prosecutorial discretion memoranda, as well as other related detention standards and policies that govern the intake, detention, and removal of alien parents. (Issued August 23, 2013)
  • Children of Immigrants Data Tool
    This database from The Urban Institute allows users to search for data relating to the demographics of immigrant children. (2012)

For Child Welfare Professionals

  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Caseworkers’ Toolkit for Children in Federal Custody
    This toolkit was developed by the Children’s Services department of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB / MRS). These materials were primarily developed for foster care caseworkers assisting children in the federal custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Division of Unaccompanied Children’s Services (ORR/DUCS), to ensure that SIJS-eligible children receive the assistance and case monitoring they need during the SIJS application process. These documents can also help social service and legal practitioners working with other children who may be eligible for SIJS. (March 2012)
  • Shattered Families: The Perilous Intersection of Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System 
    This report from the Applied Research Center (ARC), now rebranded as Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, offers unprecedented analysis of the problem, its underlying causes, local differences, and recommended solutions. It is illustrated with vivid graphics, and includes compelling stories and extensive interviews with detained and deported parents, child welfare workers, attorneys and foreign consultants.   Available in English and Spanish. (November 2011)
  • A Social Worker's Tool Kit for Working With Immigrant Families – Healing the Damage: Trauma and Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System 
    Written by the Migration and Child Welfare National Network, this tool kit provides public child welfare and community-based agencies working with immigrant families with guidelines for integrating child welfare practice -- from engagement to case closure -- with trauma-informed care and trauma-specific services. In addition, the tool kit describes strategies to build an organization’s capacity to better respond to the needs of immigrant families exposed to child maltreatment, domestic and community violence, and other traumatic stressors. It responds to frequently asked questions illustrated by case examples and provides website links and other resources. (September 2010)
  • BRYCS Guardianship Toolkit
    These resources from BRYCS (Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services) are for those assisting refugee families who are caring for non-biological children (such as grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, siblings, or friends). Overseas, these children are typically referred to as “separated children,” while in the U.S. Refugee Program, they are typically referred to as “attached refugee minors.” In the U.S. legal and child welfare fields, these caregivers are often referred to as “relative caregivers” or families with “kinship care” arrangements. The toolkit includes: Guardianship Fact Sheet for Staff Assisting Refugee Families; Legal Guardianship for Refugee Children Living in the U.S. with Relatives; List of Highlighted Resources on Guardianship; Searchable   Directory. The searchable directory provides basic information about procedures for establishing guardianship in each state. 

For Youth & Families

  • Niños: A Guide to Help You Protect Your US-Born Child in the Event You Are Detained or Deported 
    NIÑOS is a free do-it-yourself packet designed to protect US-born children of undocumented immigrants who may someday be detained or deported, and to increase family stability, promote mental health, and give the immigrant family an increased sense of security in an uncertain world. NIÑOS contains information and forms families will need in the event parents become detained or deported. (NIÑOS can be also be used in situations such as medical emergencies or other untimely events causing separations within the family.) This resource was prepared by J. Brent Helms for Legal Services Alabama. (December 2011)
  • Protecting Parental Rights: Safety Planning for Parents 
    While no one wants to think about the possibility of being taken into custody by immigration, undocumented immigrant parents should take steps to prepare for the possibility of separation from their children in order to increase the likelihood that they can reunify with their children if they are detained or deported. This resource from Women’s Refugee Commission helps undocumented immigrant parents take steps to prepare for possible separation. (November 2011)
  • Nuestras Historias 
    Nuestras Historias is a collection of 10 stories in Spanish about parenting by Mexican-American immigrant mothers, published by Rise Magazine. Stories explore the challenges these mothers face maintaining safe and stable homes and supporting their children and families while living in a new culture. Stories were developed in a writing workshop at the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, in Brooklyn, New York. Rise Magazine is written by and for parents involved in the child welfare system. Its mission is to help parents advocate for themselves and their children.


  Research & Reports    
  • Forced from Home: The Lost Boys and Girls of Central America
    This Women’s Refugee Commission report explores the reasons for the unprecedented increase in the number of unaccompanied alien children migrating to the United States from the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. It discusses the U.S. response to meeting the protection needs of refuge-seeking children and provides recommendations. (October 2012)
  • Disappearing Parents: A Report on Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System 
    This report from the Southwest Institute for Research on Women and the Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program is based on over a year of research, including over fifty surveys and twenty interviews with juvenile court judges, attorneys representing children and parents in juvenile court, and case workers in Child Protective Services. It contains detailed recommendations for the Department of Homeland Security, state child welfare systems, and Congress. (May 2011)
  • Torn Apart by Immigration Enforcement: Parental Rights and Immigration Detention
    This report from the Women’s Refugee Commission discusses identified challenges to parental rights and family preservation that occur for undocumented parents at the time of apprehension, detention, and deportation. The report offers recommendations for addressing these challenges. Access the Executive Summary and the Full Report. (December 2010)
  • Maintaining Parental Rights During Immigration Enforcement Actions and Detention
    On November 3, 2010, the Women’s Refugee Commission, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project and the Applied Research Center convened 25 experts to discuss the issue of maintaining parental rights during immigration enforcement actions and detention. This report provides an overview of the meeting and recommendations for next steps. (November 2010)
  • In the Child’s Best Interest? The Consequences of Losing a Lawful Immigrant Parent to Deportation 
    This resource was developed by International Human Rights Law Clinic, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law; Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law; and, Immigration Law Clinic, University of California, Davis, School of Law. Through a multi-disciplinary analysis, this policy brief examines the experiences of U.S. citizen children impacted by the forced deportation of their lawful permanent resident (LPR) parents and proposes ways to reform U.S. law consistent with domestic and international standards aimed to improve the lives of children. The report includes independent analysis of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data.  (March 2010)
  • Facing Our Future: Children in the Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement 
    This report published by The Urban Institute examines the consequences of parental arrest, detention, and deportation on 190 children in 85 families in six locations across the country. Building on the Urban Institute’s 2007 report, Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children, this study documents the effects on these children after their parents were arrested in worksite raids, raids on their homes, or operations by local police officers. The research explores the impact on children in the days and weeks after parental arrests, in the intermediate and long term while parents were detained or contested their deportation, and in some cases, after parents were deported. Following the Acknowledgements, Executive Summary, and Introduction, the report includes the following sections: The Separation of Parents and Children Following Immigration Enforcement; The Effects of Immigration Enforcement on Family Well-Being; Consequences for Children: Child Behaviors, Changes, and Adjustments; Community Responses to Raids and Other Arrests; and, Facing Our Future: Conclusions and Recommendations. (February 2010)
  Teleconferences, Webinars, Webcasts & Videos    


  State Examples    
  • New Mexico:  Working with Undocumented and Mixed Status Immigrant Children and Families
    This bulletin jointly published by New Mexico CYFD, Corinne Wolfe Children’s Law Center, The University of New Mexico, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children , New Mexico Citizens Review Board, New Mexico Children’s Court Improvement Commission, and Advocacy Inc outlines best practices and describes the roles of caseworkers, judges, attorneys, court staff, parents, youth, foster parents and CASA volunteers. (2011)
  • New York:  Administrative Directive on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status 
    The purpose of this Administrative Directive (ADM) is to remind local departments of social services (LDSSs) and voluntary authorized agencies (VAs) that Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) eligibility must be assessed for youth in foster care who are neither U.S. citizens nor lawful permanent residents. If the youth is found to qualify for SIJS, this status should be pursued whenever appropriate. Since the application process for SIJS can be extremely lengthy, and must be completed before youth leave foster care, it is important to identify potentially eligible youth and refer them to an attorney with immigration expertise as soon as possible. It is especially important that older youth who qualify obtain this status prior to transitioning out of care. Through this ADM, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) provides necessary information for child welfare agencies to move forward in identifying undocumented immigrant youth, informing them of SIJS, and referring them for assistance in applying for the status within the time frame needed to establish SIJS before discharge from foster care. (February 2011)

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Last updated 8/18/14