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What are Post Release Services for Unaccompanied Minors?

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The journey for many unaccompanied minors to the U.S. is long, strenuous and often traumatic. While in our care, children are provided with education, medical care, mental health services, and legal resources while we try to connect them with a sponsor. But what happens when a child is united with a sponsor and leaves our care? That’s where Home Study and Post Release services come in.

 

Creating a Bright Future for Immigrant Children 

Southwest Key Programs provides two different types of services that help facilitate this: Our Home Study and Post Release program. Working together with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Southwest Key enables a smooth transition of sponsorship through these two sets of services.  

Home Study services are designed to ensure safety for children and youth by assessing their potential future homes. After that, our Post Release services ensure success after unification by connecting families to the resources they need. This helps us create a sustainable environment for the sponsored child. 

 

What Does The Home Study Program Do? 

Home Study services help ORR evaluate potential sponsors for youth who are almost ready to leave the federal shelter system. These cases require more of an in-depth review in order for ORR to make an informed assessment. When we receive these types of sponsorship referrals, our Home Study staff work with sponsors to assess the safety and appropriateness of the home environment by conducting interviews and visiting sponsors’ homes. 

At the end of the visit, Home Study staff produce a written recommendation for ORR, which helps ORR determine whether the sponsor’s home is a good fit for the child or youth.

What Are Post Release Services? 

When a sponsor’s home is deemed safe by ORR, they may also recommend Post Release services, even if a Home Study visit wasn’t necessary. Post Release case managers meet with the sponsors to create a strategy and care plan around the necessities of the child or youth. These services ensure success after unification by connecting families to the resources they need. 

This is one method of extending additional support for youth and their sponsors post-reunification based on their needs.  

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Examples of Post-Release Services 

  1. Medical Services — Case managers connect families with physicians, dentists and other medical providers. 
  2. Education Services — Case managers help families enroll children in schools and help them apply for financial aid. 
  3. Legal Services — Case managers connect families with pro bono legal representation as children’s legal cases are evaluated. 

Both Home Study and Post Release services go above and beyond in ensuring the safety and continued support for children and their sponsors. From evaluating the home of a potential sponsor to creating a customized care plan post-reunification, our goal is to provide safety and support to youth and their families.