The Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) program,is managed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services. The URM program identifies minors under the age of 18 who are eligible to enter the United States as refugees but who do not have a parent or relative to serve as a caregiver. These children and youth are then placed into foster care or another appropriate living situation. Children and youth who are already living in the United States without a parent or guardian may also be eligible for the program.
Currently, the URM program provides services to about 1,300 minors living across the country. In the last 38 years, the URM program has served nearly 13,000 children and youth. Program beneficiaries are required to receive the same services provided to all foster children in their state of residence. Other services include, indirect financial support for basic needs, case management, independent living skills training, educational supports including educational training vouchers (ETVs), English language training, career/college counseling and training, mental health services, assistance adjusting immigration status, cultural activities, recreational opportunities, support for social integration, and cultural and religious preservation (Source: "About Unaccompanied Refugee Minors," Office of Refugee Resettlement). Whenever possible, the URM program seeks to reunite children and youth with a parent or relative.
Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area assists the URM program by determining appropriate foster care situations, providing technical assistance in the reclassification process, and providing research and training for the URM program.
LSS/NCA and Unaccompanied Refugee Minors
In 1980, LSS/NCA expanded its programming to serve unaccompanied refugee minors. The children and youth served through the program have often experienced tremendous adversity in their journey to a new life, striving to overcome unique acculturation and emotional challenges.
Every year, the LSS/NCA URM program serves approximately 40 children, although this figure fell to 26 in 2018 as a result of Administration policies, from all over the world through foster care services and benefits. The program ensures that youth develop the appropriate skills to enter adulthood and achieve self-sufficiency. As with traditional foster care services, the program encourages reunification with family whenever possible through family tracing and coordination with federal partners. However, if reunification is not possible, the program creates a case-specific permanency plan for each child.
Please consider opening your heart and home to youth in need by becoming a foster parent. To learn more about becoming a foster parent or volunteering with refugee minors, contact Patricia Britt at BrittP@lssnca.org or click the buttons below to make a difference today.