Session: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Serving Unaccompanied Children Who Have Been Forcibly Separated from Their Families at the U.S./Mexico Border (Society for Social Work and Research 28th Annual Conference - Recentering & Democratizing Knowledge: The Next 30 Years of Social Work Science)

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SSWR 2024 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 11. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

42 Multidisciplinary Approaches to Serving Unaccompanied Children Who Have Been Forcibly Separated from Their Families at the U.S./Mexico Border

Thursday, January 11, 2024: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Independence BR H, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Kristina Lovato, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Monica Faulkner, PHD, Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing, Ben Roth, PHD, MSW, University of South Carolina, Lyna Munoz-Moris, MSW, Executive Director, Todo Por Mi Familia, Mary Miller Flowers, MSW, Young Center and Jorge Cabrera, Managing Director
The number of unaccompanied children (UCs) arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border has increased greatly in recent years. During 2021, nearly 150,000 unaccompanied children (UCs) were apprehended at the US-Mexican border. Most are fleeing Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, motivated by poverty, climate change, and violence (Wise, 2023). UCs are most often apprehended by the Border Patrol and then transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the Department of Health and Human Services. While ORR is the federal agency tasked with ensuring that children are released to a parent or sponsor in the United States capable of providing an adequate home, and providing care to these children, many community organizations and professionals have also come to the forefront to provide services and meet the needs of this vulnerable population. This roundtable session will explore the variety of multidisciplinary approaches that have been implemented in recent years to serve UCs.

This roundtable session will begin with a dialogue from guest presenters from immigrant children advocacy agencies, such as Kids in Needs of Defense (KIND) and the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights, who will provide an overview of the current policy context and state-of-play surrounding reception and treatment of UCs arriving to the U.S. Then, experts on the primary concerns and needs for UCs, such as members of the Center on Immigration and Child Welfare Research Workgroup and/or guest speakers from Seneca Family of Agencies will provide background on the unique mental health challenges of this population as well as the key supportive services UCs need, both while in ORR custody and post release.

Next, presenters from Girasol and Casey Family Programs will share their testimonies on solutions and alternatives as key community-based stakeholders who have been working to provide key services and supports to unaccompanied children. Girasol is based at the UT School of Social Work and seeks to focus on mental health services for asylum seekers and the professionals who work with them. Girasol coordinates mental health evaluations for asylum cases and provides support/consultation groups for legal service providers. Finally, all contributors will share perspectives on the path forward to improve services and supports for UCs both in ORR custody and post release, including needed policy changes and areas for future research. Our goal is to stimulate conversation that will promote an understanding of the policy environment impacting unaccompanied children and their families, while also promoting ways to advocate for and strengthen services for unaccompanied children in the U.S.

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