Who are "Unaccompanied Refugee Minors"?

Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URMs) are under the age of 18 and resettled alone in the United States, without a parent, relative or other responsible adult to care for them. They fall into three categories:
  1. Refugee minors

    Young people identified overseas who enter the United States prior to their 18th birthday without a parent or caregiver to provide for them. These youths are placed directly into foster care upon their arrival.

  2. Asylee/ special immigrant juvenile status minors

    Minors granted status in the United States because of a history of abuse, neglect or abandonment and have no family to care for them. They are also eligible for foster care.

  3. Victims of trafficking

    Minors who are victims of trafficking, which involve some form of labor or sexual exploitation, are also eligible for the refugee foster care program.

Our Services

URMs receive the same benefits and services as other foster children in Massachusetts, including:

  • Indirect financial support for housing, food, clothing etc.
  • Educational support
  • Case management services
  • 24-hour emergency on-call support
  • Assistance with immigration status
  • Health, mental health and legal services
  • Cultural and recreational activities
  • Mentoring and life skills training

Refugee Minor
Refugee Minor

When Abdi was 14 years old, mercenaries invaded his home in Mogadishu, Somalia. He witnessed their killing his father and raping his mother. Abdi was shot in the shoulder and pretended to be dead until the men left his home. After the incident, fearing for his life, he left his mother, nine siblings and the only life he’d known to be resettled in the United States. Abdi has flourished in foster care. He attends school for the first time in his life, plays on the school soccer team, and works part-time at a grocery store to send money back to his mother.


Asylee Minor

Maria’s mom died when she was three and by the age of six she was selling tortillas on the street. An orphan, when Maria turned ten she joined a gang in an effort to feel like she had some sort of family. After being told she must “kill or be killed” she knew she needed to leave. Fearing for her life, Maria chose to come to the US undocumented and alone. After being apprehended by immigration she spent 6 months in a shelter, scared and anxious about her future. Maria was granted asylum and transferred to the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program. Maria hopes to learn English, get a job and be a part of a loving, supportive family.

Trafficking Minor

When Bertha was 12, her grandmother and sole caregiver became very ill. Knowing there was no future for Bertha in El Salvador, the grandmother used her life savings to pay a smuggler to bring Bertha to the United States. But, after crossing the border, the smuggler forced her to work in a brothel. Bertha was rescued during a raid and was declared a ‘Victim of Trafficking.’ She was transferred to Ascentria foster care. Bertha loves to dance and dreams of being a teacher.

*All profiles are examples of real cases but dates and names have been changed to protect client confidentiality.


230 Second Ave, Ste 125
Waltham, MA 02451 
Phone: 774.243.3068
Fax: 508.519.8310


11 Shattuck Street
Worcester, MA 01605
Phone: 774.243.3068
Fax: 508.519.8310