Educating unaccompanied immigrant children in Chicago, Illinois: A case study


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Very little is known about how unaccompanied immigrant children (UIC) are faring and integrating into US communities, or about the services they utilize and their outstanding needs. This is true for both UICs that have been released from Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) detention centers to live with sponsors and non-apprehended unaccompanied immigrant youth. From October 2014 to August 2017, 1818 apprehended UICs detained in ORR facilities have been released to live with their sponsors/families in Illinois, of those, 866 were released to Cook County, the county housing the city of Chicago. The number of non-apprehended unaccompanied immigrant children that reside in Illinois, the state with the 6th largest concentration of undocumented residents, is not known. Although these two UIC groups differ in their involvement with the U.S. government, they both have the right to a free and equitable education and an obligation to either attend school or receive homeschooling until, a minimum, of age 16. The current study considers the educational experiences of UIC in the Chicago metropolitan area from the perspective of diverse education, human service, and legal professionals that work with this population in ORR facilities, post-release, and community contexts. An overview of the population and education system factors that should be considered in the provision of educational services for UIC is identified. Implications for education and human service providers are presented.

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