• Afghan American Foundation

Unaccompanied Children (UC) Arriving From Afghanistan Immediate and Long Term Care Options


Question: What happens to an UC upon arrival to the United States after being evacuated from Kabul?


  1. UC who arrive at one of the designated U.S. airports, enter the custody of the Federal Government in order to determine whether they have a sponsor with whom they can be united.

  2. First Point of Contact is with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, under the Department of Homeland Security.

  3. CBP conducts initial intake to determine if the child is without a parent or legal guardian;

  4. If no parent or legal guardian is determined immediately, the UC is transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to process additional steps towards family reunification.

  5. ORR places UC at one of their designated care provider facilities as intake and reunification process takes place.

  6. These facilities are referred to as “shelters” or youth centers. These facilities are deemed appropriate for care of UC, especially refugees who come from around the world with similar circumstances. We have thus far been able to identify 5 such shelters in Chicago, New York, Michigan, and Virginia.

  7. During the stay in the shelter the children are provided physical and mental health care as well as schooling. The average length of time in care is about 22 days if a parent can be identified. During this time a robust effort at reunification takes place. About 90% of the children in the care of ORR are reunited with family members. 7% of children move into the foster care system, and 3% turn 18 while in care and are released.

  8. If no family ties or sponsorship occurs during their time here, then the UC are referred to either transitional foster care or long-term foster care. UC who are granted refugee, asylum, or Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status, or who are a victim of trafficking, may qualify for the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program, which also provides specialized foster care for unaccompanied children from around the world. Sponsorship still remains an option after this point as well.

  9. Currently, the Afghan UC who have arrived in the United States are under humanitarian parole, allowing them the opportunity to be processed without the hardship of legal implications. There is a possibility that Parolees may become eligible for the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) Program, which will provide them with additional long-term care options.

  10. At this stage, the children may become eligible to enter the specialty foster care system -- through providers who are registered with URM agencies (see the list of such agencies on pages 3 and 4). Upon placement into the URM program, the legal custody arrangement changes, i.e. the children exit ORR custody and enter the custody of the state, county, or private agency.

Question: Can I adopt one of the UC that are arriving?

Answer: It is very difficult for unaccompanied children to become eligible for adoption through the foster care network. Becoming an independent sponsor and applying to be their legal guardian remains an option. Reunification is always the goal.

Question: Is there any way to have these children avoid the shelters? How does Sponsorship work?

Answer: There are two ways to sponsor an unrelated child through the sponsorship process rather than the foster-family process. Due to the nature of in-depth background checks involved, the process averages to about 6 weeks.

  1. Category 3 Sponsorship- https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/policy-guidance/children-entering-united-states-unaccompanied-section-2

  2. General Sponsorship- www.everylastone.org can help facilitate this process for free. We will have a community info session with this organization, please ensure you follow the Afghan American Foundation on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for updates on events. Please contact Every Last One at (818) 533-1974 or email at hello@everylastone.org.

Question: If I believe my child or a child I am related to is detained, what can I do?

Answer: Please call +1 (800) 203-7001 to let the Government know and begin the process of reunification. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/outreach-material/office-refugee-resettlement-national-call-center, or email information@ORRNCC.com.

www.everylastone.org can also help guide you through this process.

Question: Do I live near a URM or other UC foster care provider?

Answer: If you live in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and are interested in becoming a licensed foster care provider for unaccompanied children, please contact DUCO_POInfoRequest@acf.hhs.gov and ORR will direct you to the right organization.

Unaccompanied refugee minors (URM) are served by local providers in 15 states: Phoenix, AZ; Fullerton, San Jose, and Sacramento, CA; Denver and Colorado Springs, CO; Washington, DC; Miami, FL; Worcester and Waltham, MA; Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing, MI; Jackson, MS; Fargo, ND; Rochester and Syracuse, NY; Jenkintown, PA; Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; Richmond, VA; Tacoma, Seattle, and Spokane, WA. If you live near one of the agencies that provide the URM program, you may qualify to become a licensed foster care provider for children with the URM designation. You can learn more about these programs at http://lirs.org/fostercare/ and http://www.usccb.org/fostercare.

If YES, please click on the links below and follow the route to certification. Once you are in the process and have started the background check, please enter your information into THIS database so that the Afghan American Foundation (AAF) can enter you into our database.

If NO, unfortunately at this time you are ineligible for fostering these children. Sponsorship remains an option, please contact www.everylastone.org to proceed. Furthermore, there are countless charities collecting donations to help these kids and their future. Please consider donating to a local organization. ijj

If you DO live in the same state as a UC foster care or URM organization

While foster care licensing requirements vary by state, some commonly required qualifications for certification include:

  • 21+ years of age

  • Full application

  • Be prepared for classes and training that can take up to 20 hours, including First Aid & CPR

  • High School Diploma or GED required

  • Interview, Physical Exam & TB Screening required for all adults in the home

  • Criminal History, Fraud & Background Check for all adults in the home.

  • Adequate space and cleanliness needed in-home, a home check will be conducted

  • Home has to pass the minimum requirements (a bedroom, closet, drawers, toys, locked medication, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, etc...)

  • All adults in the home require 3 personal references




Phoenix- Catholic Charities Community


​California-Southern-Fullerton~~ Crittenton

Services for Children and Families

California-Sacramento ~~ Institute for

Children’s Aid/International Christian


California-Northern-San Jose ~~ Catholic

Charities of Santa Clara County

Colorado-Denver, Colorado Springs, Greeley Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains

District of Columbia – Lutheran Social

Services of the National Capital Area

Florida - Jacksonville

Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida

Florida - Miami

Catholic Charities- URM Program

Florida - Miami, Orlando, Tampa

Lutheran Services Florida

Georgia - Atlanta, Savannah

Lutheran Services of Georgia

Illinois - Chicago

Refugee One

Maryland - Silver Spring

Lutheran Social Services of the National

Capital Area

Massachusetts - Westfield, Worcester

Ascentria Care Alliance

Michigan - Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo

Bethany Christian Services

Michigan - Battle Creek, Lansing, Troy


Mississippi - Jackson

Catholic Charities

Minnesota - Minneapolis, St. Cloud

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota

Nebraska - Omaha

Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska

New Hampshire - Concord

Ascentria Care Alliance

New Mexico - Albuquerque

Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains

New York - Utica

Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees

New York - Syracuse

Toomey Residential & Community Services

New York - Rochester

Catholic Family Center

Oregon - Portland

Morrison Child and Family Services

Pennsylvania – Jenkintown

Bethany Christian Services

Texas - Dallas

Catholic Charities

Texas - Houston

Catholic Charities

Utah - Salt Lake City

Catholic Community Services

Virginia - Richmond

Commonwealth Catholic Charities

Virginia – Fairfax

Lutheran Social Services of the National

Capital Area

​Washington - Seattle, Spokane

Lutheran Community Services Northwest.

Washington – Tacoma, Vancouver

Catholic Community Services

​Wisconsin - Madison, Milwaukee

Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and

Upper Michigan