Children Entering the United States Unaccompanied: Section 7
Policies for Influx Care Facilities
ORR modified its policies regarding Influx Care Facilities to recognize language adopted as part of the bipartisan Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019, Pub. L. 116-26 (July 1, 2019) and adopted in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, Pub. L. 116-94 (December 20, 2019) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Pub. L. 116-68 (December 1, 2020). These revised policies are intended to recognize the expectations of the U.S. House of Representatives leadership with respect to a 90-day length of stay for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) placed in influx care facilities (with some exceptions, such as for cases where a UAC is soon to be reunified).See generally, Speaker’s July 1, 2019 Letter; see also, H. Rpt. 116-450 Visit disclaimer page . The standards are intended to build upon and further protect UAC placed in Influx Care Facilities. These standards are not intended to expand placement criteria for UAC who may be placed into such a facility. These policies replace section 1.7 of the prior ORR Policy Guide. The provisions related to services apply to the contract or grant terms and conditions of ORR’s non-State licensed Influx Care Facilities.
As noted in Section 1.3.5, ORR may experience periods of influx, in which the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) entering the United States exceeds the standard capabilities of ORR to process referrals in a timely manner and designate placements with existing resources. Annually, ORR reviews contingency plans based on actual and anticipated UAC referral numbers to monitor available resources in light of expected needs.
During an influx, ORR may not have sufficient bed space available within its licensed care provider network to place UAC. In this situation, ORR arranges for the use of influx care facilities to provide supplemental bed capacity.
An influx care facility is a type of care provider facility that opens temporarily to provide emergency shelter and services for UAC during an influx or emergency. Influx care facilities are not secure facilities.
Because of the emergency nature of influx care facilities, they may not be licensed or may be exempted from licensing requirements by State and/or local licensing agencies. Influx care facilities may also be operated on Federally-owned or leased properties, in which case, the facility may not be subject to State or local licensing standards. Influx care facilities may or may not be able to accept UAC placements directly from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The following section covers placement criteria and describes when ORR activates and ceases placement at an influx care facility.
UAC-designated placement into an unlicensed influx care facility must, to the extent feasible, meet the following criteria:
- Is expected to be released to a sponsor within 30 days;
- Is age 13 or older;
- Speaks English or Spanish as his or her preferred language;
- Does not have known special needs (including mental health or identified disabilities), behavioral health issues, medical issues, or dental issues that would be better served at an alternative care provider facility;
- Is not a pregnant or parenting teen;
- Would not have a diminution of legal services as a result of the transfer to an unlicensed facility; and/or
- Is not a danger to self or others (including not having been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense).
Additional considerations for initial placement or transfer into an unlicensed influx care facility include that the UAC:
- Not be part of a sibling group with a sibling(s) age 12 years or younger;
- Not be subject to a pending age determination (see Section 1.6);
- Not be involved in an active State licensing, child protective services, or law enforcement investigation, or an investigation resulting from a sexual abuse allegation reported in accordance with Section 4.10;
- Not have a pending home study (see Section 2.4);
- Not be turning 18 years old within 30 days of the transfer;
- Not be scheduled to be discharged in three days or less;
- Not have a current set docket date in immigration court or State/family court (juvenile included); not have a pending adjustment of legal status; and not have an attorney of record;
- Be medically cleared and vaccinated as required by the influx care facility (for instance, if the influx care facility is on a U.S. Department of Defense site);
- Have a completed Medical Checklist for Influx Transfers; and
- Have no known mental health, dental, or medical issues, including contagious diseases requiring additional evaluation, treatment, or monitoring by a healthcare provider.
If ORR becomes aware that a child does not meet the seven criteria (in 1-7 above) after placement into an influx care facility, ORR will transfer the UAC to the least restrictive setting appropriate for the child’s needs as expeditiously as possible.
ORR prioritizes transferring children who do not meet such criteria to other ORR State-licensed facilities, ahead of ordinary referrals from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. An ordinary placement is a placement where special considerations – such as considerations for pregnant or parenting teens, or teens with special needs – are not present.
ORR may activate and open an influx care facility when ORR’s operational capacity is at or exceeds 85 percent for a period of three days. (Operational capacity refers to the net bed capacity of ORR’s State-licensed shelters and transitional foster care programs. See Section 7.2.1.)
ORR ceases UAC placements at an influx care facility if operational capacity drops below 85 percent for a period of at least seven consecutive days.
ORR provides for the orderly transfer of UAC from an influx care facility provided operational capacity is below 75 percent and the transfer of UAC from influx care facilities into ORR’s licensed permanent network does not raise operational capacity above 75 percent.
Except as specified below, ORR transfers or discharges UAC from an influx care facility within 90 days of admission into the facility. The day of admission and the day of discharge or transfer will count as part of the 90 days. UAC approaching 90 days should receive priority for transfers to State-licensed, permanent facilities. If a child is not transferred from an influx care facility after 90 days, the case manager documents the reason for not transferring the child, and then documents, on a weekly basis, the reason(s) why the child has not been transferred until the child is transferred or discharged.
ORR does not transfer a UAC from an influx care facility if:
- The UAC is approaching the 90-day mark, but is likely to be released to a sponsor in less than 30 days;
- There is no available bed in a State-licensed, permanent facility appropriate for the UAC;
- The UAC and the child’s parent or legal guardian objects to the child’s transfer to a licensed facility; or
- The child has, or was exposed to, an infectious disease of public health concern, and based on a medical professional’s assessment, should not be transferred during the recommended isolation or quarantine period in order to reduce transmission of disease and protect public health.
ORR may consider delaying transfer if:
- State or local law enforcement requests the child not be transferred if doing so would prevent law enforcement or other State or local government officials from interviewing the child or securing the child’s presence for a judicial or administrative hearing, as part of a lawful investigation;
- The child is not physically placed at the influx care facility, but in an out-of-network State-licensed facility; or
- The UAC’s attorney of record requests that the child not be transferred, and the child agrees.
As expeditiously as possible, but within four hours of an UAC’s placement into an influx care facility, the provider will:
- Admit the child to the program in the ORR database;
- Offer the child a meal and/or snack;
- Offer the child an opportunity to shower, provide lice treatment if indicated, and give clean clothing;
- Complete an inventory of the child’s belongings and DHS paperwork; and
- Review and have the UAC sign the Notice of Placement in an Influx Care Facility form.
Within twenty-four hours of arrival, the influx care facility:
- Provides the UAC with all documents from the Legal Resource Guide;
- Explains rules and responsibilities, grievance procedures, and sexual abuse reporting procedures;
- Rules and responsibilities
- Grievance procedures
- Sexual abuse reporting procedures.
- Provides the child with an orientation on topics related to sexual abuse and sexual harassment (see Section 4.7);
- Completes the Initial Intakes Assessment in the ORR database
- Contacts the child’s family (following safety protocols) to notify them of the child’s placement and determines if the child has a potential sponsor who resides in the United States;
- Informs the child’s family about the application process for the safe and timely release of an UAC to a sponsor (see Section 2.2.4); and
- Informs the child’s parent/legal guardian and identified potential sponsor that the placement is temporary and that if the child is transferred to another ORR care provider, the parent/legal guardian and potential sponsor will be notified.
Influx care facilities must comply, to the greatest extent possible, with State child welfare laws and regulations (such as mandatory reporting of abuse), as well as State and local building, fire, health and safety codes, that ORR determines are applicable to non-State licensed facilities.1
Influx care facilities must deliver services in a manner that is sensitive to the age, culture, native language, and needs of each UAC. Influx care facilities must develop an individual service plan for the care of each child.
The influx care facility maintains records of case files and make regular reports to ORR. Influx care facilities must have accountability systems in place, which preserve the confidentiality of client information and protect the records from unauthorized use or disclosure.
Influx care facilities must provide the following minimum services for each UAC in their care:
- Proper physical care and maintenance, including suitable living accommodations, food, appropriate clothing, and personal grooming items.
- Appropriate routine medical and dental care, family planning services, including pregnancy tests and comprehensive information about and access to medical reproductive health services and emergency contraception, and emergency health care services; a complete medical examination (including screenings for infectious diseases) within 48 hours of admission, excluding weekends and holidays, unless the UAC was recently examined at another ORR care provider facility; appropriate immunizations as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule and approved by HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; administration of prescribed medication and special diets; appropriate mental health interventions when necessary.
- An individualized needs assessment, which includes the various initial intake forms, collection of essential data relating to the identification and history of the child and his or her family, identification of the UAC’s special needs including any specific problems which appear to require immediate intervention, an educational assessment and plan, and an assessment of family relationships and interaction with adults, peers and authority figures; a statement of religious preference and practice; an assessment of the UAC’s personal goals, strengths and weaknesses; identifying information regarding immediate family members, other relatives, godparents or friends who may be residing in the United States and may be able to assist in connecting the child with family members.
- Educational services appropriate to the UAC’s level of development and communication skills in a structured classroom setting Monday through Friday, which concentrates primarily on the development of basic academic competencies, and secondarily on English Language Training. The educational program shall include instruction and educational and other reading materials in such languages as needed. Basic academic areas should include Science, Social Studies, Math, Reading, Writing and Physical Education. The program must provide UAC with appropriate reading materials in languages other than English for use during leisure time.
- Activities according to a recreation and leisure time plan that include daily outdoor activity – weather permitting – with at least one hour per day of large muscle activity and one hour per day of structured leisure time activities (that should not include time spent watching television). Activities should be increased to a total of three hours on days when school is not in session.
- At least one individual counseling session per week conducted by trained social work staff with the specific objective of reviewing the child’s progress, establishing new short- term objectives, and addressing both the developmental and crisis-related needs of each child.
- Group counseling sessions at least twice a week. Sessions are usually informal and take place with all UAC present. The sessions give new children the opportunity to get acquainted with staff, other children, and the rules of the program. It is an open forum where everyone gets a chance to speak. Daily program management is discussed and decisions are made about recreational and other activities. The sessions allow staff and unaccompanied alien children to discuss whatever is on their minds and to resolve problems.
- Acculturation and adaptation services, which include information regarding the development of social and interpersonal skills which contribute to those abilities necessary to live independently and responsibly.
- A comprehensive orientation regarding program intent, services, rules (written and verbal), expectations, and the availability of legal assistance.
- Whenever possible, access to religious services of the child’s choice.
- Visitation and contact with family members (regardless of their immigration status), which is structured to encourage such visitation. The staff must respect the child’s privacy while reasonably preventing the unauthorized release of the UAC.
- A reasonable right to privacy, which includes the right to wear his or her own clothes when available, retain a private space in the residential facility, group or foster home for the storage of personal belongings, talk privately on the phone and visit privately with guests, as permitted by the house rules and regulations, receive and send uncensored mail unless there is a reasonable belief that the mail contains contraband.
- Services designed to identify relatives in the United States as well as in foreign countries and assistance in obtaining legal guardianship when necessary for the release of the unaccompanied alien child.
- Legal services information, including the availability of free legal assistance, the right to be represented by counsel at no expense to the government, the right to a removal hearing before an immigration judge, the right to apply for asylum or to request voluntary departure in lieu of deportation. This information is included in the Legal Resource Guide for Unaccompanied Alien Children.
As part of contract or grant terms and conditions, ORR requires non-State licensed influx care facilities to follow and comply with Section 3.4.
Influx care facilities may require children to be medically cleared and vaccinated prior to arrival at the facility. All children transferred into influx care facilities from other ORR care facilities must have a completed Medical Checklist for Influx Transfers.
1. Initial Waiver
ORR may grant an initial waiver to an influx care facility from standards in Section 7.5.1 (5)-(8), or (11) and Section 7.7 if such standards are operationally infeasible, and the facility is activated for a period of less than six consecutive months.
2. Subsequent waivers after six months
ORR may grant a subsequent 60-day waiver for the contractor’s or grantee’s non-compliance if ORR determines such standards remain operationally infeasible. ORR does not grant more than four 60-day consecutive waivers to individual influx care facilities.
All influx care providers must provide emergency clinical services in the event a child requests to meet with a mental health care clinician or requires immediate clinical interventions.
ORR requires non-State-licensed influx care facilities that are in operation for more than six consecutive months to maintain the following minimum staff ratios standards:
- One (1) on-duty Youth Care Worker for every eight (8) children or youth during waking hours; and
- One (1) on-duty Youth Care Worker for every sixteen (16) children or youth during sleeping hours2
- The same clinician- and mental health staff-to-children ratio as required in standard ORR cooperative agreements or contracts for State-licensed facilities.
To the extent practicable, ORR may grant a 60-day waiver for contractors or grantee’s non-compliance with this section. ORR is prohibited from granting more than four consecutive waivers.
ORR identifies Federal staff to deploy to each influx care facility on federally leased or owned property to oversee the implementation of all policies and procedures while children are placed and cared for at each location.
For any unlicensed influx care facility in operation for more than three consecutive months, ORR will conduct a minimum of one comprehensive monitoring visit during the first three months of operation, with quarterly monitoring visits thereafter. The comprehensive monitoring visit taking place within the first three months of operation includes all the monitoring activities outlined in Section 5.5.1.
ORR enters into agreements with Federal, State, and/or local security providers or law enforcement entities to protect life and property and investigate crimes, within the confines of influx care facilities.
1. It is likely that many such laws would not be applicable, either because the UAC are in Federal and not State legal custody; or because the State or local government officials lack jurisdiction. In such cases, ORR may include in contract or grant terms and conditions state or local zoning or fire codes, in accordance with Federal requirements, including use of fire, life, and safety inspections and food safety inspections.