The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights is a national non-profit organization committed to advancing the rights and best interests of immigrant children according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and state and federal law. We do so through three different programs:
- Child Advocate Program: Pursuant to federal law, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services appoints Child Advocates to unaccompanied and separated immigrant children in federal juvenile immigration detention centers in Chicago and across the country. The role of the Child Advocate is to identify and advocate for the best interests of individual children and ensure that all decisions about them—including custody, placement, reunification with family, permanency, and repatriation—take into consideration their best interests.
- Technical Assistance Program: This program offers trauma-informed and culturally sensitive case consultations, mentorship, resources, and trainings to attorneys and service providers working with immigrant children involved in state child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Our goal is to increase the capacity of advocates and service providers working directly with immigrant children to identify challenges they face and to know how to address them or who to ask for help in addressing them. In doing so, we strive to amplify the voices of immigrant children and youth, to support their placement in community-based settings outside of government custody, to preserve their familial bonds and cultural ties, and to advocate for their long-term safety and well-being.
- Policy Program: Our Policy Program works to incorporate the best interests of the child standard into practice, policy, and immigration law. Federal law does not explicitly require immigration officials to consider the best interests mandate of immigrant children, which leads to family separation, detention, unfair court hearings, and the repatriation of children to danger—even when there is evidence the child will be harmed upon return. We advocate directly with federal agencies, work with Congressional offices, participate in litigation, author reports, and implement communications strategies with the goal of completely reimagining the system for unaccompanied children.