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Foster Care for Unaccompanied Children


Who We Are

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops department of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) is the largest refugee resettlement agency in the world. MRS is a leader among non-governmental agencies in addressing the needs of refugee children forced to flee their homes due to war or persecution, along with vulnerable children migrating to the United States to escape community and familial violence, poverty and hunger. MRS employs a specialized team of experts to oversee its foster care programming within the Children's Services division. With support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of State, MRS works with a national network of 12 state licensed Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) foster care programs for the on-going care of unaccompanied children. Most of these programs are administered through Catholic Charities agencies. 

What We Do

To ensure that the best interests of unaccompanied children in the program are considered and protected, our national staff provide the following:

National Placement Coordination – Assess all cases for the best placement within the national network, matching individual child needs with URM program strengths and service capacity

Case and Program Consultation – Provide consultation to the URM programs on complex cases, systemic trends, programmatic issues, and potential new populations.

Capacity Development and Training – Provide guidance to the URM programs on developing capacity to expand placement options and ensure provision of quality care; facilitate exchange of promising practices across the URM network.

Case Oversight and Program Monitoring – Provide national case management oversight and monitoring of foster care programming for unaccompanied children in federal custody.

Research and Evaluation – Evaluate outcomes and services provided throughout the URM network; issue reports to stakeholders capturing trends in service needs for URM population.

Advocacy – Represent the URM program network within inter-agency working groups addressing the needs of unaccompanied children; advocate for specialized care options for unaccompanied children as well as international child protection needs.

Through the URM program, children are predominantly placed in foster family homes in the community, but there are other living arrangements available, including group care or supervised independent living for older youth.  To learn more about the services provided to children in the program, please click here.


How You Can Help

Learn how you can become a foster parent to an unaccompanied refugee or immigrant minor!  The URM foster care programs are separate from domestic foster care programs in that they have been developed by agencies with expertise in working with foreign-born children.  Foster families are oriented towards the particular needs of refugee and immigrant children.  Contact Children's Services / 202-541-3081 for more information.

Learn More about Foreign-Born Children in Foster Care

A Portrait of Foreign-Born Children in Federal Foster Care and How to Best Meet Their Needs - December 2012

Immigration Relief for Children in Federal Foster Care Before and After TVPRA 2008 - December 2012



Help our Foster Care program by making a tax-deductible contribution.

If you are in New York, Florida, or Washington, DC, make your donation online.  Residents of other states should visit the National Catholic Fund for Migration and Refugee Services.


The United States Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program: Guiding Principles and Promising Practices.


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