While immigrant and refugee families have many of the same needs as other families, they also face unique challenges as they navigate the child welfare system. Specifically, they may face legal barriers to accessing services, trauma from difficult immigration or refugee experiences, the detention or deportation of a family member, and acculturation and language issues. The foundation of effective practice when working with these families is understanding the complex issues they may face. Child welfare workers should keep cultural responsiveness in mind, which includes respecting diverse backgrounds, valuing different cultural experiences, and appropriately responding to cultural factors. Caseworkers must address the needs of all families regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, faith, or class. Use these resources to support child welfare professionals in expanding their understanding of immigrant and refugee families and children.
Detained or Deported: What About My Children? (PDF - 1,695 KB)
Butera, Chou, Jones, & Kelsey (2019)
Women’s Refugee Commission
Provides a toolkit for immigrant and undocumented parents on protecting their parental rights and navigating the child welfare and court systems. The resource also gives contact information for State child welfare agencies and adoption reunion registries.
How Can Child Protection Agencies Support Families and Children Who Lack Lawful Immigration Status?
Casey Family Programs (2020)
Discusses considerations for child welfare caseworkers when working with and supporting families and children who lack lawful immigration status. The resource reviews Federal laws that relate to child protection and immigrants, describes common challenges faced when working with immigrant families, and highlights strategies for supporting the needs of this population.
Immigrant Families and Child Welfare Systems: Emerging Needs and Promising Policies
Greenberg, Capps, Kalweit, Grishkin, & Flagg (2019)
Migration Policy Institute
Compares a variety of State and local approaches to working with immigrant families and describes an integrative approach.
Reckoning With History and Building a New Future: Reflections on Race, Immigration, and Poverty in Child Welfare
Quinones & Collins (2020)
Children’s Bureau Express, 20(10)
Discusses the history of family separation in the United States and how it is linked to race, immigration, and poverty and makes the point that dealing with the past is the only way to move forward towards a different future.
Refugee Communities in Minnesota: Updated Information for Child Welfare Professionals in Changing Communities [Training]
Shannon, Carlson, & Molloy (2021)
Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
Presents information about refugee status and the resettlement process, as well as experiences common among this community. This training also describes strategies that child welfare professionals can implement to effectively partner with refugee families and communities.
What Do Child Welfare Leaders Need to Know About Supporting Families When Caregivers Are Facing Immigration-Enforced Detention or Deportation?
Casey Family Programs (2020)
Discusses situations in which child welfare professionals may encounter a child whose parent or caregiver has been detained or deported and reviews core principles from case law around the intersection of child protection and parental detainment and deportation. The resource also lists several resources for additional information on this topic.
Who Are Children in Immigrant Families?
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2021)
Presents definitions and key facts about children in immigrant families in the United States.