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February 2015Vol. 16, No. 1Child Welfare Policies in Support of Immigrant Children, Families

Each day, more people emigrate from their home countries to the United States in search of opportunities for brighter futures. As the U.S. immigrant population increases, so does the incidence of immigrant families who come into contact with child welfare. In order to provide the most appropriate and helpful services, it is important that child welfare agencies have defined policies in place for working with immigrant children and families.

The Center on Immigration and Child Welfare (CICW), formerly the Migration and Child Welfare National Network, is creating a series of briefs that explore emerging policies being used in California child welfare agencies to meet the specific needs of immigrant children and families. CICW surveyed county child welfare agencies throughout California to compile information on innovative practices and policies currently being implemented so that other counties and States can use them as examples to improve their own services and policies for working with this population.

The first brief in the series is now available and presents information on the use of Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between U.S. child welfare agencies and foreign consulates to aid in the coordination and provision of services to transnational families. Thirteen of the 46 counties surveyed by CICW had MOU with the consulate of Mexico. The brief examines four provision categories that were common across the MOU that were assessed: (1) agency obligations, (2) consular obligations, (3) service provision for Mexican children and families, and (4) procedural components. Each category and its corresponding provisions are discussed in detail.

Other topics to be addressed in future briefs in this series include the following:

  • Placement of Children With Parents or Relatives in a Foreign Country
  • Placement of Children With Undocumented Relatives in the United States
  • Case Planning for Parents Residing in a Foreign Country
  • Immigration Relief Options for Undocumented Youth in Care
  • Financial Eligibility Including Permanent Residence Under Color of Law (PRUCOL)
  • Language Access

All the briefs, including Memoranda of Understanding With Foreign Consulates, can be found at More briefs will be added as they become available.