Children Entering the United States Unaccompanied: Section 6
Resources and Services Available After Release from ORR Care
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has resources and services in place for children once they are released from ORR custody. These resources and services may include:
- Post-Release Services (PRS): ORR provides post-release services for children who would benefit from ongoing assistance by a social service agency. These services include assistance in connecting children and their sponsors to community based resources. All children who have a home study (See Section 2.4.2 Home Study Requirement) receive PRS following their release. Children released without a home study may also receive PRS if they are specially identified as needing additional assistance in connecting to appropriate resources in the community.
- Safety and Well Being Follow-Up Call: All children released to a sponsor receive a Safety and Well Being Follow-Up Call. Care providers must conduct a Safety and Well Being Follow-Up Call with a child and his or her sponsor 30 days after the child’s release from ORR custody. The purpose of the follow up call is to determine whether the child is still residing with the sponsor, is enrolled in or attending school, is aware of upcoming court dates, and is safe.
- ORR National Call Center: The ORR National Call Center (ORRNCC) is a help line that fields calls from released children and families and links released children and their families or sponsors with services in their local communities.1 Released children, family members, sponsors, legal service providers, child advocates, and other members of the community can request assistance or report concerns to the ORRNCC. The ORRNCC reports, as appropriate, matters of concern to ORR, local law enforcement, and/or local child protective services.
- UAC Sexual Abuse Hotline: Released children, family members, sponsors, legal service providers, child advocates, and other members of the community can report confirmed or suspected incidents of sexual abuse or sexual harassment that occurred at ORR care providers to the UAC Sexual Abuse Hotline. The hotline reports, as appropriate, allegations to ORR, local law enforcement, and local child protective services.
- Notification of Concern: ORR requires that ORR grantees and contractors who work or come in contact with unaccompanied alien children after their release from ORR care and custody to a sponsor report concerns about the children’s safety and well-being to appropriate investigative agencies (including local law enforcement and child protective services), as applicable. ORR grantees and contractors must also notify ORR of immediate dangers to a released child’s safety and well-being. This may include the child becoming a victim of human trafficking, being involved with a gang, running away, or suffering abuse. ORR reviews the matter to determine what, if any, additional action should be taken, including but not limited to: reporting the matter to local law enforcement; child protective services; or state child welfare licensing authorities; providing post-release services to the released child and his or her sponsor; requiring corrective action to be taken to remedy any failure to comply with Federal and State laws and regulations, licensing and accreditation standards; ORR policies and procedures, and child welfare standards; or providing technical assistance, as needed, to ensure that deficiencies are addressed.
Post-release services (PRS) promote the safety and well-being of certain unaccompanied alien children who have been released from ORR’s custody to a sponsor in the United States (See Section 2.8 Release from Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Custody). ORR facilitates the provision of PRS services through its network of PRS providers. PRS providers coordinate supportive services in the community where the child resides.
ORR refers for post-release services cases in which:
- The child received a home study (See Section 2.4.2 Home Study Requirement), or
- The child was released to a non-relative sponsor, or
- The release was determined to be safe and appropriate but the unaccompanied alien child and sponsor would benefit from ongoing assistance from a community-based service provider.
PRS providers must be culturally and linguistically appropriate when connecting the child and sponsor to resources within their local community. The PRS provider coordinates services that promote access to services in the areas of: placement and stability; immigration proceedings; guardianship; legal services; education; medical services; individual mental health services; family stabilization and counseling; substance abuse; and gang prevention, as needed and appropriate for the specific child and/or sponsor. (See Section 6.2.3 Post Release Service Areas)
The PRS provider must adjust services in response to the changing needs of the child and sponsor. If the child moves to a new home the PRS provider must ensure continuation of PRS services at the child’s new residence. PRS providers must contact ORR with any Notifications of Concern.
PRS providers will establish caseloads of 1:25 but have the flexibility to go up to 1:40, if needed. Caseloads shall not exceed 40 cases per case manager.
In determining the level of PRS for an unaccompanied alien child, PRS providers assess the child’s needs and the sponsor’s need for supportive services to assist in providing for the child’s physical and mental well-being. There are two levels of PRS, Level 1 and Level 2. PRS providers must offer one or both levels of services during the UAC’s service period.
- In-home engagements for the purpose of assessing the needs of and assisting children and their sponsors in accessing community services with particular focus on the post release service areas (see Section 6.2.23 Post Release Service areas [hyperlink] below), and
- A referral to Level Two (2) Services, if necessary.
Level Two (2) Services:
This level of service is for children who previously received Level One (1) Services but have been assessed to be in need of more intensive case management by a PRS provider or for children referred to Level Two (2) Services during the safe and timely release process from ORR residential care. This level of service provides a high level of engagement between the PRS provider and the sponsor in order to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of the child. Level Two (2) services include:
- Regularly scheduled home visits (at least once a month),
- On-going needs assessments of the child,
- Comprehensive case management, and
- Access to therapeutic supports.
For Level One (1) and Level Two (2) cases, providers must submit to ORR:
- Monthly follow-up reports;
- Notifications of concern, as applicable; and
- Case closure reports.
PRS providers must assist the UAC and sponsor in accessing services in the areas listed below. They must provide the services in a manner that is sensitive to the individual needs of the UAC.
Placement Stability and Safety: PRS providers must work with sponsors to address challenges in parenting a UAC. This may include guidance about maintaining a safe home; supervision of the UAC; protecting the UAC from threats by smugglers, traffickers, and gangs; and information about child abuse, neglect, separation, grief and loss, and how these issues affect children.
Immigration Proceedings: The PRS provider must monitor and help facilitate the sponsor’s plan to ensure the UAC’s attendance at all immigration court proceedings and compliance with DHS requirements.
Guardianship: If the sponsor is not a parent or legal guardian of the child, then the PRS provider must provide the sponsor information about the benefits of obtaining legal guardianship of the child. If the sponsor is interested in becoming the child’s legal guardian, then the provider may assist the sponsor in identifying the legal resources to do so.
Legal Services: PRS providers must assist the sponsor is accessing relevant legal service resources including resources for immigration matters and unresolved juvenile justice issues.
Education: PRS providers must assist the sponsor with school enrollment and monitor the UAC’s progress in school. PRS providers may also assist with alternative education plans for UAC who exceed the state’s minimum age requirement for mandatory school attendance.
Medical Services: PRS providers must assist the sponsor in obtaining medical insurance for the UAC and in locating medical providers that meet the individual needs of the child and the sponsor. If a child requires specialized medical assistance, the PRS provider must assist the sponsor in making and keeping medical appointments and monitoring the UAC’s medical requirements.
Individual Mental Health Services: PRS providers must provide the sponsor with relevant mental health resources and referrals for the UAC. The resources and referrals must take into account the individual needs of the UAC and sponsor. If a UAC requires specialized mental health assistance, PRS providers must assist the sponsor in making and keeping mental health appointments and monitoring the UAC’s mental health requirements. PRS providers must provide guidance on the administration and monitoring of psychotropic medications, as needed.
Family Stabilization/Counseling: PRS providers must provide the sponsor with relevant resources and referrals for family counseling and/or individual counseling that meet individual needs of the child and the sponsor.
Substance Abuse: PRS providers must assist the sponsor in locating resources to help address any substance abuse-related needs of the UAC.
Gang Prevention: PRS providers must provide the sponsor information about gang prevention programs in the sponsor’s community.
Other Services: PRS providers may assist the sponsor and UAC with accessing local resources in other specialized service areas based on the needs and at the request of the UAC.
For children who receive post release services as the result of a home study required under the TVPRA (See Section 2.4.2 Home Study Requirement), the PRS provider must start services within two days of the UAC’s release from ORR custody. However, ORR does not delay release of the UAC if PRS are not in place before the release of the UAC, unless the UAC’s Case Manager conducts an individualized assessment and determines that, given the particularized needs of the UAC, the sponsor would not be suitable if PRS were not in place prior to release. The UAC’s Case Manager must document the specific reasons that PRS must be in place in the release request.
PRS continue during the pendency of a UAC’s removal proceedings. PRS must end when the UAC turns 18 years of age or when the UAC’s immigration case is terminated. A UAC’s case is considered terminated when the UAC:
- is granted voluntary departure,
- receives an order of removal, or
- obtains immigration status.
Post release services must end once the child is granted voluntary departure or immigration status or the child receives an order of removal, regardless of the case type. In the event the child is granted voluntary departure or receives an order of removal, services cannot continue until the child is repatriated; they must end once the case is terminated.
PRS TVPRA cases that have been active for more than one year and have been assessed to have no major concerns may be moved into once a month check-ins by the PRS provider. This check-in must be documented in the PRS file.
All Other Cases
Children who receive PRS through an ORR-mandated home study or discretionary home study, or without a home study (See Section 2.4.2 Home Study Requirement) must be referred for post release services prior to release. The PRS provider does not have to accept the referral prior to the child’s release for the child to receive PRS. The PRS provider must begin services within 2 days of accepting a referral. PRS end after 90 days or when the child turns 18, whichever happens first. PRS services may also be terminated where a child welfare professional assesses that such services are no longer needed.
PRS providers are required to maintain records of case files and make regular reports to ORR. PRS providers must ensure all communication with children and their sponsors is documented. PRS providers must also document the outcomes of the services provided. At a minimum, PRS providers must report to ORR information about a child’s case, including all service areas that were accessed by the child and/or sponsor, on a monthly basis and upon the case’s service period closure. PRS providers are required to report concerns about the children’s safety and well-being to appropriate investigative agencies, as applicable. PRS providers must also notify ORR of immediate dangers of which they become aware to a released child’s safety and well-being.
6.2.5 Post-Release Service Records Management, Retention and Information Sharing (Effective 10/1/16)
PRS providers must maintain children’s information in an ORR-provided database. PRS providers are required to maintain a high standard of record keeping and must safeguard child and sponsor case information. PRS providers must also develop a system that preserves the confidentiality of children’s and sponsor’s information and protects the records from unauthorized use or disclosure. Case files must be stored for the period specified in State licensing standards or its accrediting agency, or three years from the date the post-release service period concluded, whichever is longer. Cases involving litigation must be maintained until the case is resolved.
The records of children served under the post-release services program are the property of ORR to the extent the child is in ORR custody at the time the records are developed. PRS providers may not release these records without prior approval from ORR (See Section 5.3.3 Release of Records Without Prior Approval). Records generated while post-release services were initiated are grantee records, but are subject to ORR access provisions in 45 C.F.R. Part 75 Visit disclaimer page . PRS providers must provide records to ORR or an individual or entity that ORR designates access upon request.
The ORR National Call Center (ORRNCC) is a help line available to children, family members, sponsors, legal service providers, child advocates and other members of the community while a child is in ORR custody or after a child is released to a sponsor. Any child or third party can request assistance or report concerns to the ORRNCC. The Call Center offers the following assistance to children released from ORR care:
- Locate resources in the sponsor’s community, such as:
- Legal service providers
- Educational support
- Medical care
- Emotional support
- Juvenile justice
- Substance abuse treatment
- Safety support
- Report child abuse or neglect allegations to law enforcement and/or appropriate child welfare authorities
- Create safety plans for children or sponsors experiencing the following circumstances:
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse or neglect
- Self-harm, including suicide attempts
- Placement disruption
- Refer potential trafficking victims to the Office on Trafficking in Persons
- Provide assistance with filing a “change of venue”/”change of address” motion in immigration proceedings
- Provide vaccination records upon request
ORRNCC staff provides separate services than those offered by post-release service providers. Unlike post-release service providers, ORRNCC does not provide case management services. Rather, ORRNCC staff provides safety planning to and makes community referrals for children and their families as a response to requests for assistance, and conducts one follow-up call to children and their sponsors after a safety plan or community referral is made. ORRNCC staff refers children to receive post-release services if they are within 180 days of release and their placement has disrupted or is at risk of disruption. If a child contacts the help line for assistance but the child is already receiving post-release services, ORRNCC staff alerts ORR that the child is in need of assistance.
All reports made to the ORRNCC must be documented and reported in accordance with mandatory reporting laws, State licensing requirements, Federal laws and regulations, and ORR policies and procedures. ORRNCC is required to report concerns about the children’s safety and well-being to appropriate investigative agencies, as applicable. ORRNCC must also notify ORR of immediate dangers to a released child’s safety and well-being.
1. The ORR National Call Center also has other functions including providing confirmation to a child’s family that he/she is in ORR custody (See Section 1.5.1 ORR National Call Center) and assisting potential sponsors in beginning the safe and timely release process (See Section 2.2.3 The Application for Release).