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Technical Resources

Detained or Deported: What About My Children?


Parental Rights Toolkit

Detained and deported parents struggle to ensure care for their children, to participate in child welfare and family court processes, and to reunite with their children. This can cause prolonged separation, severe trauma to children, and even termination of a parent’s custody rights. The scale of this problem is huge: over 5,000 children are in foster care because their parents have been detained or deported.

This toolkit provides detained and deported immigrant and undocumented mothers and fathers with crucial information they need to protect and maintain parental rights and make well-informed, critical decisions regarding the care and welfare of their children. It includes information on how to get a lawyer, how to stay in touch with children, and how to participate in family court or child welfare hearings.

The toolkit also provides officials, attorneys, service providers and family members who work with detained parents and their children with critical information to ensure that family unity and children’s best interests are taken into consideration in immigration decisions.

The toolkit includes information on:

  • Protecting parental rights when detained or deported
  • Making care arrangements for children
  • Determining if a child is in the child welfare system and participating in that system
  • Complying with a child welfare ordered reunification plan
  • Participating in family court proceedings
  • Reunifying with children following release from detention or deportation

The toolkit also includes:

  • Contact information for state child welfare agencies in all 50 states
  • Links to state-specific handbooks for parents with children in the child welfare system
  • Guidance on how to request appointed counsel in family court
  • List of states that provide court-appointed lawyers in family court
  • Instructions on applying for U.S. passports from detention
  • Contact information for adoption reunion registries
  • Contact information for child welfare agencies in Mexico and Central America
United States Children Migrant Youth Detention and Separation Rights and Justice Technical Resources