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Children Entering the United States Unaccompanied: Guide to Terms

Published: March 21, 2016

Care Provider – A care provider is any ORR funded program that is licensed, certified or accredited by an appropriate State agency to provide residential care for children, including shelter, group, foster care, staff-secure, secure, therapeutic or residential treatment care for children.

Case Manager – The Case Manager is the care provider staff that coordinates assessments of unaccompanied alien children, individual service plans, and efforts to release unaccompanied alien children from ORR custody. Case Managers also ensure all services for children and youth are documented and maintain case files for unaccompanied alien children.

Case Coordinators (CC) – CC are ORR non-governmental contractor field staff who act as a local ORR liaison with care providers and stakeholders and who are responsible for making transfer and release recommendations. ORR/CC are assigned to care providers on the basis of an ORR/CC to bed ratio; therefore, an individual ORR/CC may be assigned to one or several care providers and a care provider with a large bed capacity may have more than one ORR/CC. 

Child Advocate – A Child Advocate is an independent third party who is appointed by ORR for select unaccompanied alien children to make recommendations to various stakeholders regarding the best interest of a child.

Clinician – The Clinician is the care provider staff that provides clinical and/or counseling services for unaccompanied alien children and provides oversight for the unaccompanied alien child’s mental and emotional health.

Escape Risk – Escape risk is the level of risk that an unaccompanied alien child will attempt to escape from custody.

Extended Care Group Home – An extended care group home is a type of residential care provider that provides a group home setting in which the unaccompanied alien child may attend public school. Unaccompanied alien children who may be in ORR custody for an extended period may be eligible for this type of placement.

Family Reunification – Family reunification is an older term used in the Flores Settlement Agreement to refer to the process of releasing an unaccompanied alien child to the care of a parent, relative or other sponsor.

Family Reunification Packet (FRP) – The family reunification packet is an application and supporting documentation completed by potential sponsors who wish to have an unaccompanied alien child released from ORR to their care.  ORR uses the application and supporting documentation, as well as other procedures, to determine the sponsor’s ability to provide for the unaccompanied alien child’s physical and mental well-being.

Group Home – A group home is a care provider facility that offers a group home setting and that specializes in caring for specific populations (e.g., teen mothers). A group home, which is run by 24-hour staff or house parents, typically houses 4 to 12 unaccompanied alien children.

Home Study – A home study is an in-depth investigation of the potential sponsor’s ability to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. The process includes background checks of the sponsor and adult household members, a home visit(s), a face-to-face sponsor interview and possibly interviews with other household members, and post-release services. A home study is conducted for any case in which the safety and well-being of the unaccompanied alien child is in question and on any case that meets the mandatory Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 home study categories.

Home Study Provider – A home study provider is a non-governmental agency funded by ORR to conduct home studies.

Individual Service Plan (ISP) – An individual service plan is a plan prepared by the care provider for an individual unaccompanied alien child that identifies placement and case outcome goals, and delineates services, action steps, and individuals responsible for tasks to achieve the goals.

Influx – An increase in the number of unaccompanied alien children that exceeds the standard capabilities of responsible Federal departments and agencies to process and transport them timely and/or to shelter them with existing resources.

Influx Care Facility – A type of care provider facility that is opened to provide temporary emergency shelter and services for unaccompanied alien children during an influx or emergency. Influx care facilities may be opened on Federally owned or leased properties, in which case, the facility would not be subject to State or local licensing standards; or, at facilities otherwise exempted by the State licensing authority.

Legal Guardian – A legal guardian is a person who was appointed charge or custody of a child in a court order recognized by U.S. courts.

Legal Service Provider (LSP) – A legal service provider is an ORR funded contractor, sub-contractor, grantee or sub-grantee that coordinates legal services and pro-bono representation for unaccompanied alien children in ORR custody.

Long Term Foster Care (LTFC) – Long term foster care is ORR-funded community based foster care placements and services to which eligible unaccompanied alien children are transferred after a determination is made that the child will be in ORR custody for an extended period of time. Unaccompanied alien children in ORR long term foster care typically reside in licensed foster homes, attend public school, and receive community based services.

Medical Coordinator – A medical coordinator is care provider staff who makes medical and dental appointments on behalf of unaccompanied alien children in care, and maintains logs on an unaccompanied alien child’s health related information.

ORR/DCS HHS Processing Center (HPC) - An ORR designated facility to initially screen and vaccinate children prior to their placement into an Influx Care Facility or standard shelter during an influx period.

ORR/Federal Field Specialist (ORR/FFS) - Field staff who act as the local ORR liaison with care providers and stakeholders. An ORR/FFS is assigned to multiple care providers within a determined region and serves as the regional approval authority for unaccompanied alien children transfer and release decisions.

ORR/Headquarters Staff (ORR/HQ) - ORR staff that work at headquarters and are typically assigned to one of the following teams: ORR/Intakes Team, which receives referrals of unaccompanied alien children from Federal agencies for placement of unaccompanied alien children and who designate the initial placement of unaccompanied alien children into ORR care provider facilities; ORR/Medical Services Team, responsible for adjudicating Treatment Authorization Requests (TARs) and providing consultation and technical assistance in relation to the unaccompanied alien children program procedures on medical services to ORR staff and  grantees; and ORR/Project Officer Team, responsible for the programmatic, and technical aspects of applications and grants and monitoring facilities.

Placements – The term placements includes initial placement of an unaccompanied alien child into an ORR care provider facility, as well as the transfer of an unaccompanied alien child within the ORR network of care.

Post-Release Services – Post-release services are synonymous with follow-up services. They are services provided to an unaccompanied alien child based on the child’s needs after he/she leaves ORR care. Post-release service providers coordinate referrals to supportive services in the community where the unaccompanied alien child resides and provide other child welfare services, as needed. Post-release services can occur until the minor attains 18 years of age. Post-release services can occur in combination with a home study or independently. Participation in Post Release Services is a voluntary choice by the sponsor and unaccompanied alien child.

Post-Release Service Provider – A post-release service provider is an agency funded to connect the sponsor and unaccompanied alien child to community resources for the unaccompanied alien child and for other child welfare services, as needed, following the release of the unaccompanied alien child from ORR custody.

Referred Placement – A referred placement occurs when an unaccompanied alien child is referred to ORR by any department or agency of the Federal government for placement into ORR custody.

Release – A release is the ORR approved release of an unaccompanied alien child from the care and custody of ORR to the care of a sponsor.

Residential Treatment Center (RTC) – A residential treatment center is a sub-acute, time limited, interdisciplinary, psycho-educational, and therapeutic 24-hour-a-day structured program with community linkages, provided through non-coercive, coordinated, individualized care, specialized services and interventions. Residential treatment centers provide highly customized care and services to individuals following either a community based placement or more intensive intervention, with the aim of moving individuals toward a stable, less intensive level of care or independence. ORR uses a RTC at the recommendation of a psychiatrist or psychologist or with ORR Treatment Authorization Request (TAR) approval for an unaccompanied alien child who poses a danger to self or others and does not require inpatient hospitalization.

Secure Care – A secure care provider is a facility with a physically secure structure and staff able to control violent behavior. ORR uses a secure facility as the most restrictive placement option for an unaccompanied alien child who poses a danger to self or others or has been charged with having committed a criminal offense. A secure facility may be a licensed juvenile detention center or a highly structured therapeutic facility.

Shelter Care – A shelter is a residential care provider facility in which all of the programmatic components are administered on-site, in the least restrictive environment.

Significant Incident Report (SIR) – A significant incident report is a report completed by care providers to report and document any significant incidents related to unaccompanied alien children.

Special Needs Minor – A special needs minor is an unaccompanied alien child whose mental and/or physical condition requires special services and treatment. An unaccompanied alien child may have special needs due to a disability as defined in section 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §12102, as amended.

Sponsor – A sponsor is an individual (in the majority of cases a parent or other relative) or entity to which ORR releases an unaccompanied alien child out of Federal custody.

Staff Secure Care – A staff secure care provider is a facility that maintains stricter security measures, such as higher staff to unaccompanied alien children ratio for supervision, than a shelter in order to control disruptive behavior and to prevent escape. A staff secure facility is for unaccompanied alien children who may require close supervision but do not need placement in a secure facility. Service provision is tailored to address an unaccompanied alien child’s individual needs and to manage the behaviors that necessitated the child’s placement into this more restrictive setting. The staff secure atmosphere reflects a more shelter, home-like setting rather than secure detention. Unlike many secure care providers, a staff secure care provider is not equipped internally with multiple locked pods or cell units.

Standard ORR Facility – ORR shelters that include shelter care, secure care, staff-secure, a residential treatment center, or long term foster care (does not include Influx Care Facilities or HPCs).

Therapeutic Foster Care – Therapeutic foster care is a foster family placement funded by ORR for unaccompanied alien children whose exceptional needs cannot be met in regular family foster care homes and consists of intensive supportive and clinical services in the homes of specially trained foster parents. Foster care programs work in collaboration with foster parents to provide interventions, treatment, protection, care, and nurturance to meet the medical, developmental, and/or psychiatric needs of unaccompanied alien children. The unaccompanied alien child typically attends public school and receives community based services.

Transitional Foster Care – ORR transitional foster care is synonymous with ORR short term foster care. Transitional foster care is an initial placement option for unaccompanied alien children under 13 years of age, sibling groups with one sibling under 13 years of age, pregnant/parenting teens, or unaccompanied alien children with special needs. Unaccompanied alien children are placed with foster families in the ORR network of care but may attend school and receive most service components at the care provider site.

Transfer – A change of placement of an unaccompanied alien child from one ORR care provider to another ORR care provider.

Unaccompanied Alien Child (UAC) – UAC is the term used and defined in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created the Unaccompanied Alien Children’s program at ORR.  A UAC is a child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States; has not attained 18 years of age; and with respect to whom: 1) there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States; or 2) no parent or legal guardian in the United States available to provide care and physical custody.

Unaccompanied Alien Child – An unaccompanied alien child is the term ORR uses to refer to a child that meets the definition in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 as a UAC.

Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program (URM) – The URM program is the ORR-funded foster care services program available pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1522(d) that establishes legal responsibility, under State law, to ensure that unaccompanied minor refugees and other eligible children (such as children granted asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, T or U status) receive the full range of assistance, care, and services that are available to all foster children in the State.

Last Reviewed: January 8, 2019