Descriptive Study of the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

Child WelfareMay 26 2021

The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has funded a study by MEF Associates and its subcontractor, Child Trends, to better understand the range of child welfare services and benefits provided through the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program.

The URM program serves refugees and other eligible youth within the United States who do not have a parent or relative available to care for them. The program, funded by ACF’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), has served more than 13,000 minors since its launch. Each URM program is unique to a state and parallels the child welfare system in the state in which it operates. URM programs arrange foster care, group homes, independent living situations, or reunification with relatives in the United States, and offer other child welfare services to promote the well-being of refugee children and youth. They also offer services that integrate youth into their new communities while preserving their ethnic and religious heritage. However, implementation of these services differs from program to program.

The study uses an online survey of program administrators and State Refugee Coordinators, site visits to six URM programs, and analysis of program-level data to answer the following research questions:

  • What do we know about how different URM programs administer benefits and services for refugee youth?
  • What data are currently collected for the URM program and what do they tell us about the extent that URM youth achieve self-sufficiency?
  • What are the characteristics of populations served by the URM program and how are services for each target population implemented?
  • What would be the best evaluation design strategies for learning more about the effectiveness of the URM program?



Project director for Child Trends: Sarah Catherine Williams

Others: Heather Wasik, Maia O’Meara

For more information, please reach out to OPRE’s points of contact for this project, Tiffany McCormack and Gabrielle Newell, or MEF Associates’ Project Director, Sam Elkin.




MEF Associates