Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Issue Brief: Insights from OIG’s Work on the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Efforts to Care for Unaccompanied Children

Issued on  | Posted on  | Report number: OEI-09-23-00440

Report Materials

This is an update to a previous report: Toolkit: Insights from OIG's Work on the Office of Refugee Resettlement's Efforts To Care for Unaccompanied Children

Why OIG Did This Review

  • This issue brief provides insights from the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG’s) oversight of the Unaccompanied Children Program, which is administered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF).
  • These insights represent overarching lessons gleaned from OIG’s body of oversight work during 2008 to 2024—rather than a new assessment of ORR’s important efforts to ensure the health and safety of children in HHS custody—which ACF can use to guide its current and future operation of the Unaccompanied Children Program.

Key Insights

OIG intends that this issue brief serve as a succinct, high-level overview of OIG’s work that can inform the ongoing efforts to ensure the health and safety of children in HHS custody. As such, we present themes that remain relevant, acknowledging that ORR has taken numerous actions to improve its operation of the Unaccompanied Children Program in relation to specific OIG recommendations.

Preparing to take unaccompanied children into custody
Effective interagency coordination and adequate bed capacity are critical for ORR’s readiness to assume custody for a variable number of children over time.

Protecting children in HHS custody from harm
Proper employee screening and training; tracking significant safety incidents; and coordination with law enforcement are essential to protecting children in HHS custody.

Addressing children’s medical and mental health needs
Thorough intake assessments, effective case management, and an adequate number of qualified staff can ensure that ORR is able to provide prompt services to children.

Supporting the release of children to safe sponsors
Effective processes for vetting sponsors and timely post-release followup are important to reduce the risk of children being released to and remaining in unsafe environments.

Administration for Children and Families
Departmental Operational Issues Emergency Preparedness and Response Non-institutional care
Children and Families
Grants Other Funding