Susan Terrio Awarded Reflective Engagement Grant

Susan Terrio received a Georgetown University reflective engagement grant in April 2014, to lead a collaborative team composed of legal practitioners, social scientists, and social workers with expertise on undocumented children and youths. The team met for a two-day planning meeting on August 20 and 21, 2014. The meeting was prompted by an unprecedented surge in the number of undocumented children apprehended by immigration authorities. For many years, the number of children apprehended, designated as unaccompanied, and detained annually in the US was approximately 8,000.  From 2009 to 2013, this number tripled, and government officials project that in 2014 that number could balloon to 60,000 unaccompanied minors, with no end in sight.  Of those who are in custody, nearly 90% qualify for release to the community. Currently only 20% of released children receive critical follow-up medical and mental health services. Without adequate support these children fall into costly domestic child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Given the need to screen exploding numbers of children and to turn over detention beds at a faster pace, the federal government has recently instituted streamlined release procedures that are causing alarm. Observers fear that children may be placed in situations where they are at risk of abuse or exploitation. The team mapped out a plan to write and submit a substantive grant to a major funding agency in early 2015. The goal is to gather empirical data on the experiences of three groups of undocumented youths: 1) those who are released from federal custody with follow-up services ; 2) those who are released from federal custody without follow-up services;  3) those who have avoided apprehension after entering the United States and have no contact with local, state or federal systems. The team will focus on 6 areas of high release including Atlanta, northern California, greater DC, Houston, New York, and Los Angeles as well as new resettlement areas such as Alabama, the Carolinas, and rural Georgia.