“It’s Hard to Explain.”: Service Providers’ Perspectives on Unaccompanied Minors’ Needs Based on Minors’ Forms of Immigration Relief

  • Kathryn A. V. ClementsEmail author
  • Diane Baird
  • Rebecca Campbell


This article explores the needs of newcomer youth served by a social service agency providing refugee foster care services. All newcomer youth served have one of the following forms of immigration relief; refugee, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), victim of human trafficking (T-visa), or asylum. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of staff regarding the ways in which mental health, education, legal assistance, and employment needs might differ by immigration status for the newcomer youth served. Findings demonstrate that educational needs were similar, but that newcomer youth without permanent resident status reported more signs of depression or anxiety. Additionally, newcomer youth had a variety of migration-related experiences that impacted their legal needs, and staff felt the legal process lacked some clarity. Staff felt that employment needs were prioritized by newcomer youth with SIJS. Findings contribute to a scholarly understanding of the effects of the complex unaccompanied minor immigration system, and have implications for the application of a systems framework (Maton et al. in American Journal of Community Psychology, 38, 1–7, 2006; Tseng and Seidman in American Journal of Community Psychology, 39, 217–228, 2007) in youth social settings.


Adolescent Refugees Depression Anxiety Unaccompanied Social work 



This work was funded by a grant from the Multicultural Research Consortium in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.SamaritasLansingUSA
  3. 3.LansingUSA

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