MWCNN 2008

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Second National Forum of the Migration and Child Welfare National Network

The following are presentations and resources from the second national forum of the Migration and Child Welfare National Network (MCWNN), The Intersection of Immigration and Child Welfare: Emerging Issues and Implications. The forum was held April 1-3, 2008, in Chicago and convened professionals from the fields of child welfare, immigration, law, policy and advocacy.

Download the forum program

Download the conference proceedings


Preparing to Meet the Needs

Skills Building Sessions and Intensive Seminars

April 1, 2008

Interagency Cooperation: Collaboration as Best Practice

Participants discussed case scenarios, provided by International Social Service - USA and Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services, that involve an essential interagency component. Case examples included refugee or asylum applications, family reunification, intercountry custody and home-study issues. The cases involved individuals or families in need of a range of resources from a wide variety of agencies. Specific attention was given to how agencies can collaborate with each other across disciplines to resolve complex cross-border issues.

Download the session PowerPoint and handouts

Download the Immigrant Legal Resource Center Youth Handbook.

Advanced Legal Issues on the Intersection of Immigration and Child Welfare Law 

Safety, permanency and well-being are three conceptual measures built into today’s child welfare law and practice. How can these principles be applied on behalf of undocumented children in need of child welfare agency services and to the immigration proceedings they face? How might child welfare agencies better identify and help address immigration issues affecting abused, neglected and abandoned children? How can immigration attorneys and child welfare attorneys effectively collaborate in connection with juvenile court and immigration proceedings affecting the same children? This session examined these and related issues and provided information on advanced resources useful to child welfare workers, lawyers and others who work in both “systems.”

Download the session PowerPoint and handouts.

Download the Roles and Responsibilities of Guardians for Unaccompanied and Separated Immigrant, Migrant, and Refugee Children from the Immigrant Child Advocacy Center, Chicago


April 2, 2008

Opening Presentation: Family Engagement and Permanency Planning Across the Border: A Case Study

This session highlighted important issues, lessons learned and key practices related to the case of a 15-year-old foster youth and the work resulting in reconnection and reunification prospects with his family in Mexico. The case study also included reflections on promising practices in San Diego County and collaborations between Casey Family Programs and the Child Welfare Services Office of the International Liaison. Participants gained a broader understanding of some of the transnational, socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic considerations involved in this and other cases involving permanency planning across borders.

Download the session PowerPoint and handouts.

Panel Session: What We Know About Immigrant Children and Families in the Child Welfare System: The Current State of Research Knowledge

In this session, leading national experts on the intersection of immigration and child welfare discussed the current state of empirical knowledge concerning immigrant children and families who have come to the attention of child welfare systems. The panelists presented the results from recent national, state and local studies, and discussed the needs and direction for future research. Implications for using this research to inform practice were also presented.

Download the session PowerPoint and handouts.

Download the policy brief Addressing Barriers on the Path to Self-Sufficiency, on CALWORKS Safety Net and Sanction Cases developed by the Child and Family Policy Institute of California

Panel Session: The Future Federal Policy Landscape and State Child Welfare Law Changes

This session explored federal immigration and child welfare legislative developments that could occur between mid-2008 and the end of 2009 and that could positively affect immigrant children and families in need of child protection and child welfare services. It also examined an agenda for potential changes of state child welfare laws and regulations that would enhance service provision to immigrant children and families.

Download the session notes.

Joining Forces

Ensuring the Safety and Well-Being of Immigrant Children

April 3, 2008

The National Forum included a joint session with the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Immigrant Children Lawyers Network, which brought together professionals from the legal community and child welfare agencies to focus on issues that affect them both within the arena of immigration and child welfare.

Over the past year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has intensified immigration enforcement activities by conducting several large-scale worksite raids across the country. From an in-depth study of three communities, this report details the impact of these raids on the well-being of children. The report provides detailed recommendations to a variety of stakeholders to help mitigate the harmful effects of worksite raids on children.

Download Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children, a report by the Urban Institute for the National Council of La Raza

Socratic Dialogue

The Socratic dialogue format uses a hypothetical case history and a cross-disciplinary team of panelists who discuss how they would act in complicated situations when the “right” choices are not clear. The moderator brought up interwoven ethical, legal and public policy issues and encouraged panelists and the audience to explore complex, vital issues, including the quality of representation in the juvenile system; the value of collaborative courts; and the ethical obligations of defense counsel, prosecutors, judges and child welfare workers to provide services to a vulnerable population. This presentation reviewed a case scenario to demonstrate the various perspectives and issues that come into play when an immigrant child enters the child welfare system.

Download the Socratic dialogue scenarios.

Additional Resources

The Judges' Page newsletter is a publication of The National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association in partnership with The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges for additional immigration information written by many members of the Migration and Child Welfare National Network.

International Social Service -- USA 2006 Annual Report.

Additional resources recommended by panelists and presenters from the Migration and Child Welfare National Network

Resources Recommended by the Immigrant Child Advocacy Center at the University of Chicago

American Bar Association. (2004, August). Standards for the custody, placement and care; legal representation; and adjudication of unaccompanied alien children in the United States.

Bhabha, J. & Schmidt, S. (2008). Seeking asylum alone: Unaccompanied and separated children and refugee protection in the U.S. The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 1(1), 126-138.

Executive Office for Immigration Review. Policies and Procedures Memorandum 04-07: Guidelines for Immigration Court Cases Involving Unaccompanied Alien Children. Download the PDF.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Working with refugee and immigrant children: Issues of culture, law and development. Available at

Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act, S 1129.

UNICEF. Convention on the rights of the child. The Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Nov. 20, 1989, and has been in force since September 2, 1990. It has been ratified by 192 countries, except Somalia and the United States.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (1994). Refugee children: Guidelines on protection and care. Geneva.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (1997). Guidelines on policies and procedures in dealing with unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Geneva.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2006, May). UNHCR guidelines on formal determination of the best interests of the child.

Publications for and about the MCWNN

American Humane Association. (2006). Protecting Children: Migration: A Critical Issue for Child Welfare, 21(2). Available here.

Guest editors included Sonia Velazquez, Maria Vidal de Haymes and Robert Mindell. This issue represents the initial phase of work by the founding members of the Migration and Child Welfare National Network. Many professionals in the fields of child welfare and immigration provided input into this important literature, which became the catalyst for the first American Humane Association Roundtable.

American Humane Association. (2007). Protecting Children: The Intersection of Migration and Child Welfare: Emerging Issues and Implications, 22(2). Available here.

The guest editors were Alan Dettlaff and Ilze Earner. MCWNN members authored five of the seven articles.

American Humane Association; Loyola University Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work; with BRYCS; Annie E. Casey Foundation; & Hunter College School of Social Work. (2006, December). Migration: A critical issue for child welfare, 2006 transnational research and policy forum report.

This report was published as a direct result of the conversations held during the first Roundtable. Issues and implications were focused in four areas: policy/advocacy, research, best practice and transnational relations. They were highlighted using the federally mandated child welfare outcomes: safety, permanency and well-being. This report became the launching point for the Migration and Child Welfare National Network.

Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2006). Undercounted, underserved: Immigrant and refugee families in the child welfare system.

Written by Yali Lincroft and Jena Resner, this report focuses on the specific needs of immigrant and refugee children in the child welfare system and presents best practices and policy recommendations for better serving these populations. The report has been widely distributed at all MCWNN conferences and activities. The research and policy recommendations have been adopted in MCWNN reports and affiliated publications produced by its membership.

Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS). (2006, Winter). Refugee resettlement and child welfare: Collaboration for child protection.

Lists many promising practices including MCWNN partners in St. Louis and New York City.

BRYCS. (2007). Raising children in a new country: An illustrated handbook.

Written by Lyn Morland and Laura Gardner and developed as a tool for immigrant-serving agencies as they help newcomer parents adjust to the different laws, norms and practices around raising children in the United States. MCWNN members provided focus group suggestions and reviewed this document.

BRYCS. (2007, Fall). Family and community centered child welfare practice with refugees and immigrants.

Developed by Lyn Morland and Laura Gardner, with input and inserts from staff of the American Humane Association and Family to Family/Annie E. Casey Foundation. Highlights the use of Family Group Decision Making and Team Decision Making with immigrants and refugees.

National Collaboration for Youth and the National Juvenile Justice Network (2006, November). Undocumented immigrant youth: A guide for advocate and service providers. Policy Brief No. 2.

This brief outlines the risks and obstacles that undocumented immigrant youth face in both the immigration and juvenile justice systems. The brief also recommends policies and actions that immigration advocates, youth advocates and service providers could adopt to improve the safety and well-being of immigrant youth. MCWNN public policy members provided research material and assisted in reviewing this document.

Price, R. (2008, February 11). For immigrants, child-welfare solutions murky. The Columbus Dispatch.

This article is about orphaned immigrant children placed with undocumented relatives by the Franklin County, Ohio, child welfare agency. Yali Lincroft and Ken Borelli were quoted as members of MCWNN about the need for greater guidance at the federal, state and local level on helping immigrant children in the child welfare system.

Rise Magazine. (2008, Spring). Issue 9.

A publication written by and for birth parents in the child welfare system. The focus of this issue is on the needs of and resources available for immigrant families in the child welfare system. Most of the agencies cited in the issue are MCWNN members. The articles include an interview with Yali Lincroft.

Velazquez, S., Earner, I., & Lincroft, Y. (2007, July/August). Child welfare and the challenge of new Americans. Children’s Voice.

This article explains what happens to children during Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.

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