The number of migrant children entering the United States without a parent or legal guardian reached a record high last year. Most unaccompanied children temporarily enter the care of the U.S. government before joining parents or other sponsors in U.S. communities to await the outcome of their immigration proceedings. Once they have made this transition, the services and supports that are critical to their ability to thrive—medical and mental health care key among them—can be difficult to access. This 60-minute conversation marks the conclusion of a research project undertaken in 2022 by MPI and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to study unaccompanied children’s access to medical and mental health services after release from federal custody.
AAP and MPI launched their report, A Path to Meeting the Medical and Mental Health Needs of Unaccompanied Children in U.S. Communities, and discussed its findings and recommendations during this webinar, including insights from field visits in Houston, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, where researchers spoke with more than 100 professionals working with unaccompanied children. The conversation featured a walk-through of the report’s findings around barriers to care for unaccompanied children and promising community practices to strengthen medical and mental health services. It also focused on the report’s recommendations on steps that governments, health systems, schools, and communities can take to improve access to medical and mental health care, for the benefit of the children and broader society.