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Thousands of unaccompanied children cross our border seeking refuge every year. Once they are processed by Customs and Border Patrol, they are transferred into a shelter system funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These state licensed shelters, including the quality of care they offer and the oversight they are subject to, play a critical role in children's migratory experiences.

The Children’s Equity Project has published a national analysis of the complicated state and federal rules that govern the treatment and quality of care in shelters housing immigrant children who come to the United States on their own or who are separated from their parents or another adult they are traveling with upon arrival. The analysis takes a developmental lens, examining factors that are most likely to affect child development, health, and wellness.

Unaccompanied children are children first, and a developmentally-centered approach to their care, at least on par with systems of care that house and care for other children in the United States, must be of utmost priority. The report calls on states, Congress and federal agencies to address gaps in quality quickly so that the record number of immigrant children coming here under often traumatic circumstances receive high-quality care until they can be placed with family members or in foster care.

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