Unaccompanied Children: Background Information

These multimedia materials, which include federal guidelines, tip sheets, reports, and videos, can be used by individuals and organizations interested in learning more about unaccompanied children and advocacy efforts on their behalf.

Unaccompanied Children in Schools: What You Need to Know

The following tips from the American Federation of Teachers offer useful, basic information about unaccompanied children and what schools need to know to best meet their needs.


National Overview

Organizations and media outlets are pulling together recommendations on ways that the public and officials in charge can help. The following list provides an overview of the situation and a number of related resources.

American Federation of Teachers: Resource Section
This resource section from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) includes updated data about unaccompanied minors, including a helpful infographic with key statistics about placement, country of origin, age, and gender.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: State & County Data
This web list provides updated data on the number of unaccompanied children who have been released to sponsors (usually family members) by state and county.

Welcoming America: Unaccompanied Children Resources
This resource section includes an excellent compilation of multimedia materials including webinars from organizations working directly with unaccompanied children, as well as information from cities that are taking steps to welcome children into their communities.

Q. and A.: Children at the Border
This feature from The New York Times offers updated maps and graphs that highlight important data about where children are coming from, their journey to the U.S., and the communities where they are arriving.

Fact Sheets and Reports

Unaccompanied Child Migrants in U.S. Communities, Immigration Court, and Schools

The tens of thousands of unaccompanied school-aged children and youths who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in the spring and summer of 2014 had vastly different educational experiences depending on where they settled, according to this report from the Migration Policy Institute.  The report argues that the “most visible and immediate impact” of the surge of unaccompanied minors has been felt by local school districts.

5 Things You Need to Know About Unaccompanied Children
This brief from the Center for American Progress provides an important overview of the crisis and debunks a number of related myths. Also available in Spanish.

Protecting Migrant Children Fleeing from Central America
This document from the First Focus Campaign for Children provides an overview of the current process youth undergo once they arrive in the United States, and recent efforts by the Federal government to address the situation. The document concludes with recommendations for the government agencies responsible for ensuring the safety and overall well-being of these children.

No Childhood Here: Why Central American Children Are Fleeing Their Homes
The report from the American Immigration Council, written by migrant expert Elizabeth Kennedy, takes an in-depth look at the reasons children are leaving home and embarking on the dangerous journey to come to the U.S.

More Federal Resources

When migrant children are apprehended at the border, the Department of Health and Human Services places them into an HHS shelter where they receive educational services. The children are later released to a sponsor while their immigration case proceeds. Federal law then entitles the children to equal access to a public education. States and districts can also find resources available under IDEA, Title I, Migrant Education Programs and more. See documents and resources related to this process below.

Educational Services for Immigrant Children: What Schools Need to Know
For an overview of educational services for immigrant children, including FAQs, enrollment guidelines, and related policies, see this fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Education (also available in Spanish).

State Directory of Refugee Aid Organizations
From the Department of State, this directory lists all refugee aid organizations in the U.S. by state.

Legal Issues for School Districts Related to the Education of Undocumented Children
In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court held that undocumented children have a constitutional right to receive a free public K-12 education. This booklet discusses 13 legal questions commonly asked by school board members and school administrators related to undocumented students.

Federal Reminder on Migrant Children
The U.S. Department of Education has issued a fact sheet reminding states and districts of their legal obligation to help unaccompanied migrant children — namely, by providing them with a public education.

Feature Films & Documentaries

These films tell the stories of children who are making the trip to el norte (The North) and provide a first-hand account of that dangerous journey.