Support for unaccompanied minors
Accompany Now! provides home studies and post-release services to unaccompanied minors – that is, children who have crossed the US border without a parent or guardian, or who have become separated from that parent/guardian.
Home studies may be conducted before a child is released from Office of Refugee Resettlement custody into the care of a “sponsor,” usually a parent, family member, or family friend, in order to assess the safety and appropriateness of the home for the child. Once a child is placed with a family, Accompany Now! Case Managers deliver and connect families with post -release services, including:
- Assistance obtaining an immigration attorney at low or no cost (depending on family income).
- Information and referral for assistance with legal guardianship.
- Information and advocacy to enroll the child in school or other educational program including language services (ESL, ESOL).
- Safety and permanency planning.
- Referral and information about low cost, local, linguistically and culturally appropriate services in the following areas:
- medical and dental services
- parenting skills and resources
- independent living skills
- individual and family counseling
- substance abuse treatment and prevention to address past or current use of drugs/alcohol
- reproductive health and family planning
- services for adults/children with a disability
- gang prevention services
Who are Unaccompanied Children?
Unaccompanied children come to the U.S. under a variety of circumstances, embarking on a dangerous journey, desperate to seek protection from abuse or violence, escape from extreme poverty, or simply with the hope of reunifying with family. These children often make the journey alone without a family member. Most unaccompanied immigrant children begin their migration to the United States in Mexico and Central America (Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala). Children apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) either via Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the border, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the interior of the United States are placed in removal proceedings. Until their immigration case is decided, they are housed in temporary shelters or group homes by ORR. Some children may be eligible for release from an ORR shelter to a relative or family friend while their case is pending so that they do not have to be detained for an extended period of time.
As a program of the Reformed Church of Highland Park Affordable Housing Corporation (RCHP-AHC), Accompany Now! provides these services under the auspices of the US Committee on Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).