Refugees and the U.S. Child Welfare System: Background Information for Service Providers
Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services
Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS)
September 2006, 37 pages
In our interactions with refugee resettlement staff, numerous workers have highlighted the need for practical tools that utilize a "train the trainer" approach and impact service delivery in the field. Many have also expressed uncertainty about the U.S. child welfare system and its function in relation to refugee families. In response to these concerns, we intend this toolkit to be a practical resource that will: 1. Be a training guide for refugee resettlement staff to improve their understanding of how the child welfare system works, and how to access and assist clients in obtaining services. 2. Provide a common vocabulary of child welfare terms, enabling refugee resettlement staff to make appropriate referrals for child welfare services. 3. Dispel misconceptions about child welfare agencies and encourage stronger linkages between child welfare services and refugee resettlement agencies to utilize preventative techniques and ultimately keep refugee children and youth with their families, minimizing the need for child removal. 4. Assist in the development of a network of services based on a common understanding of how and why the child welfare system works and increase partnerships between the resettlement system and child welfare; increase the responsiveness and cultural sensitivity to refugee children, youth and families, while building on their inherent strengths. 5. Empower refugee resettlement staff to make referrals to child protective services as needed, recognizing the safety needs of refugee children and families. We hope this resource will shed light on how the child welfare system works and inspire refugee resettlement workers and administrators to reach out and partner with child welfare agencies in their communities, thus providing more comprehensive services to assist new refugees integrating into communities across the United States.