ACF Responds to Surge in Kids Crossing Alone into U.S.

The number of children crossing the border without parents or guardians has been growing over the last few years. Last year, close to 25,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the southwest border. By the end of this fiscal year, ACF projects that 60,000 unaccompanied minors are expected to arrive in the U.S.  These children are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. They are young, separated from their families and have survived a hazardous journey. 

By law, HHS, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Administration on Children and Families is responsible for providing care to children referred by immigration authorities.  We temporarily take care of these children, protect them, and help them find their family members. 

We are working with the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security and state and local officials to respond to the recent surge in unaccompanied children crossing the southern U.S. border.  DOD has authorized the use of military facilities to provide temporary shelter for unaccompanied children, where they will be under the supervision and care of HHS program grantees.

The majority of the youth are cared for through a network of state-licensed ORR-funded care providers that provide:

  • Classroom education
  • Mental and medical health services
  • Case management
  • Socialization and recreation
  • Placement services that facilitate safe and timely release to family members or other sponsors who can care for them. We conduct home studies prior to release if safety is in question, and fund follow-up services for at-risk children after their release.

View FAQs on unaccompanied children to learn more. (FAQs en Español)

Note: We are unable to accept volunteers or donations to help unaccompanied children at temporary housing locations.  If you are interested in donating goods to the refugee resettlement program, contact your local refugee resettlement agencies.

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