Unlike adults, minor victims of human trafficking do not need to be certified in order to receive services and benefits, as they are eligible for benefits through the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the HHS Administration for Children and Families (22.U.S.C. §7105(b)(1)). Similar to international adult victims, international minor victims of trafficking (younger than age 18) do not need to be certified, but instead receive a letter of eligibility from HHS and are then eligible to apply for a similar range of services as refuges, including the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program. The Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program originally was designed to provide resettlement services to those refugee minors located both in the United States and abroad without a parent or guardian, and to provide a linguistically and culturally appropriate alternative to the mainstream Federal/State foster care and adoption system. This program assists with the development of skills minors need to enter adulthood and achieve economic and social self-sufficiency. According to each States law, victims receive the full range of assistance, care, and services to which all children in the State are entitled. In addition, a legal authority is designated to act on behalf of the minor in the absence of the minors parents. This includes English language training, career planning, health/mental health needs, socialization skills/adjustment training, residential care, education/training, and ethnic/religious preservation. Reunification with parents or other family also is encouraged when available and appropriate, and attempts to trace family are conducted in coordination with local refugee resettlement agencies. Most children in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor program are placed in licensed foster homes, although other settings, including therapeutic foster care, group homes, residential treatment centers, and independent living programs, may be utilized depending on the needs of the minor (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007).
Although some research suggests services available for minor victims are meeting some of their needs (Bales & Lize, 2004; Caliber Associates, 2007), larger, long-term studies are needed to confirm early findings.