Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program
The Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program provides culturally and linguistically appropriate child welfare, foster care, and independent living services to youth who do not have parents in the United States (U.S.), or who enter the U.S. unaccompanied by a parent, an immediate adult relative, or an adult having documentable legal evidence of custody of the minor. Refugee children who enter the U.S. with family, but later experience a family breakdown may be eligible for the URM program.
Please note: The state administered URM program differs from the federally administered Unaccompanied Children (UC) program, operated through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
Populations served by the URM program
- Cuban/Haitian entrants;
- Victims of human trafficking who have an ORR eligibility letter;
- Non-citizen victims of domestic violence and other serious crimes who have been granted a U-Visa from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and meet all other eligibility requirements, or;
- Minors who have received Special Immigrant Juvenile Status while in ORR’s custody.
Two lead resettlement agencies, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), assist ORR and identify eligible children; determine appropriate placements; and conduct training, research and technical assistance.
Since April 2004, the California Department of Social Services has administered the California URM program, contracting with three URM service providers:
- Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, a USCCB affiliate based in San Jose;
- Crittenton Services for Children and Families, a LIRS affiliate based in Fullerton, Orange County, and;
- International Christian Adoptions, a LIRS affiliate based in Citrus Heights, Sacramento County.
These agencies place URM youth in the above counties and surrounding regions.
Under Title 45 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 400.112[a]
, states are mandated to provide foster care and child welfare services to URMs that are equivalent to those provided to mainstream foster youth. Additionally, states must provide child welfare services to URMs according to the state’s child welfare standards, practices and procedures.
Below are links to detailed information about the URM program. If you have questions regarding the URM program, please contact the RPB at (916) 654-4356 or URM@dss.ca.gov
NOTE: Most links below are to documents in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Please see Tips for Using Adobe PDF Files for details.
Policies and Procedures
- CDSS All County Letter (ACL)
- ORR State Letters
- Federal Statutes and Regulations
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