Two innovative child welfare toolkits -- A Social Worker's Tool Kit for Working With Immigrant Families -- A Child Welfare Flowchart (August 2009) and A Social Worker's Tool Kit for Working with Immigrant Families -- Immigration Status and Relief Options (June 2009) -- are now available to public and private child protection services (CPS) workers, attorneys, immigration workers and legal aides who assist with child welfare-related cases. These toolkits were created to increase workers' knowledge and skills relative to immigration-related issues that may impact their ability to assist immigrant families when they come to the attention of CPS.
"Immigration has been a defining feature of the United States throughout its history," said Sonia Velazquez, vice president of the Children's Division of the American Humane Association. "Currently, children represent one of the largest and fastest-growing immigrant populations in the U.S. As a result of this growth, the child welfare field faces many new issues of practice, policy and research specific to children from immigrant families. Child welfare workers need to have the resources to actively pursue answers to a large number of confusing situations and questions that impact the lives of children from immigrant families." Since the beginning of Velazquez's tenure at American Humane, she has dedicated efforts to develop and launch resources to adequately serve immigrant families in the child welfare system.
Leading organizations in the fields of immigration and child welfare were convened by American Humane in 2006 to increase the effectiveness of the child welfare system and other corresponding systems' response to issues of migration and to the needs of immigrants who come to the attention of social services. These organizations constitute the Migration and Child Welfare National Network, (MCWNN), a dynamic group that has shown numerous accomplishments under the leadership of the American Humane Association, Annie E. Casey Foundation, American Bar Association, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Jane Addams School of Social Work/University of Illinois, International Social Services of the United States, US Conference of Catholic Bishops/Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services(BRYCS), Casey Family Programs, and other national organizations.
"The toolkits provide public child welfare workers and other professionals with a basic understanding of the U.S. immigration system and an overview of how and when immigration issues may arise during the chronology of a child welfare case," said Yali Lincroft, a consultant with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and primary author of the toolkits.
The first toolkit, Child Welfare Flowchart, begins at the point of a child abuse report and continues through assessment, diversion or intervention, removal, dependency issues and permanency planning. At each stage of the flowchart, potential immigration issues are noted and explored.
The second toolkit, Immigration Status and Relief Options, is intended to provide public child welfare workers with a basic overview of the dynamics of the U.S. immigration system as it impacts their clients. It reviews immigration concepts and constructs and includes practical resources such as tips for accessing vital documents, facilitating communication between child welfare system workers and immigration legal counsel, and a summary of immigration relief options applicable to youths in dependency proceedings.
American Humane Association