On February 20, the Administration for Children and Families issues new guidance on the intersection between child welfare requirements and immigration enforcement. The guidance (ACYF-CB-IM-15-02) comes via an Information Memorandum and offers resources and advice on case planning and service delivery for families and children with parents or legal guardians who are either detained or deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The IM outlines the requirements under Title IV-E and Title IV-B child welfare law and suggests potential resources that may be available to address issues created when a child is in foster care and the parent is either in another country or being detailed by ICE. HHS suggests that ICE can help facilitate the process in a way that promotes the best interests of the child and parents. They suggest that parents who have been detained may be placed closer to the child’s or to the family court involved. They also indicate that ICE may be able to assist in addressing challenges such as transportation issues when a child welfare hearing is taking place.
HHS also suggests careful consideration of exemptions from the required 15 month termination of parental rights when the case involves a fit parent. Something that is not always been assured. In 2012 in a controversial decision, a Missouri judge terminated the rights of a Guatemalan mother who had been detailed in a raid at a chicken processing plant in 2007. Her son less than five years of age, was taken and she was denied visitation and a judge terminated parental rights despite her attempts to get her son back.
The guidance also discusses youth in care including obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) for youth aging out of care without a parent to reunify with.