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The Journey to Home

When a child crosses the U.S. border, oftentimes without a parent or caregiver, they are placed into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and designated as Unaccompanied Children.

These children undertake the journey for various reasons, such as reuniting with family in the U.S., escaping violence or abuse, or seeking work to support their families. Their age, separation from relatives, and the hazardous journey make them particularly vulnerable to trafficking, exploitation, and abuse.

Upon entering ORR custody, efforts begin to contact parents, guardians, or relatives and find a suitable sponsor, often a close family member in the U.S. During this process, children receive age-appropriate care and wraparound services in ORR-funded facilities.

ORR identifies children in need of Home Study and/or Post Release Services and refers them to providers, including Morrison Child & Family Services.

Home Study Services

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is responsible for ensuring Unaccompanied Children are released to safe and appropriate sponsors. These sponsors, often parents, legal guardians, or close relatives, assume responsibility for the children’s well-being.

ORR follows legal guidelines to conduct home studies, determining if potential sponsors can effectively meet the child’s needs.

Typical reasons include:

  • if the unaccompanied child has been the victim of trafficking, has experienced physical or sexual abuse, or has a disability
  • if evidence suggests a sponsor may abuse, mistreat, exploit, or traffic the child
  • if the sponsor is not a relative, home studies are also mandatory under certain circumstances.

ORR contracts with a network of providers nationwide to work with children and their sponsors, including Morrison Child & Family Services. When ORR refers a child and their potential sponsor to Morrison, we assign a case manager who:

  • Assesses the potential sponsor’s ability to meet the child’s needs,
  • Educates and prepare the potential sponsor for the child’s release; and
  • Corroborates information gathered on the sponsor assessment.

The home study consists of interviews, a home visit, and a written report containing the home study case worker’s findings. The final recommendation presents a comprehensive and detailed assessment of the sponsor’s ability to care for the needs of the child and identify any information that emerges regarding the sponsor, the sponsor’s household or the child. This may include information that raises child welfare concerns.

The home study report may identify areas where additional services, resources, or information are needed to support a successful sponsorship.

Please note that while Morrison makes a recommendation to ORR about release to the sponsor, the ORR Federal Field Specialist (FFS) takes the home study provider’s recommendation into consideration when making a release decision. ORR has final authority on release decisions. ORR/FFS acts as agents of HHS/ORR to approve all unaccompanied children release requests.

Post-Release Services

Once a child is released from ORR custody into the care of their sponsor, Post-Release Services (PRS) are provided to ensure ongoing support and a smooth transition into their new communities.

Under ORR policy, all released children are eligible for PRS. Children whose sponsors underwent mandatory home studies are legally required to receive these services.

ORR provides three levels of PRS:

  1. Level One — Virtual Check-ins;
  2. Level Two – Case Management Services – referrals and connection to community resources; and
  3. Level Three – Intensive In-home Engagements — intensive services if needed for specific challenges.

ORR mandates the use of evidence-based child welfare best practices that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, addressing each child’s unique needs with a trauma-informed approach. PRS providers assist released children in accessing legal services, education, English language classes, medical and behavioral health care, positive youth programs, and more.

Additionally, children released from ORR custody need physical and emotional safety, access to individualized services and support, the ability to maintain family and community connections, and protection from abuse, neglect, and other harm.

PRS providers assess safety and offer psychoeducation to children and their sponsor families on the impacts of prolonged separation, family changes, trauma from violence, and more, ensuring a safe and stable home environment.

These services are provided by a network of ORR-funded non-profit organizations across the United States, including Morrison Child & Family Services.

For more detailed information please refer to ORR’s website.

Visit ORR's Website

The number of youth served in the 2023 fiscal year

Country of Origin for youth served

Where youth have been placed with sponsors in the U.S.

From Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras, and El Salvador

Placed with immediate or extended family members

Between 13-17 years old


Our offices for Home Study & Post-Release Services are located in Portland, Salem, and Federal Way, Washington.

Portland Office
9911 SE Mt Scott Blvd, Portland, OR 97266
(503) 258-4307

Salem Office
707 13th St. SE, Suite 200, Salem, OR 97301
(971) 303-2007

Federal Way Office
33301 9th Ave. S, Suite 120, Federal Way, WA 98003
(503) 310-2689


Language Accessibility

Services are provided primarily in Spanish as this is a culturally and linguistically specific program. Services may also be provided in English. By Phone and In-person interpreter services can be arranged for most languages.


Youth are assigned directly in this program through the Office of Refugee Resettlement


11035 NE Sandy Boulevard
Portland, OR 97220

Main Tel. 503-258-4200

Tax ID: 93-0354176


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Morrison Child & Family Services provides culturally responsive, anti-oppressive mental health and substance use disorder treatment, support, and prevention services to children, youth, and families who are working through the effects of systemic racism, trauma, poverty, abuse, neglect, or other mental health needs. Tax ID: 93-0354176

The Morrison Foundation partners with the community to sustain and expand financial support for Morrison Child and Family Services’ programming. Tax ID: 81-4453786

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