PLATINUM2023

THE YOUNG CENTER FOR IMMIGRANT CHILDRENS RIGHTS

We stand in the justice gap. Stand with us in fighting for unaccompanied and separated children facing deportation.

Chicago, IL   |  www.theyoungcenter.org

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Mission

The mission of the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights is to promote the best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children with due regard to the child's expressed wishes, according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and state and federal law.

The Young Center is a champion for the best interests of children who arrive in the United States on their own, from all corners of the world. We serve as trusted allies for these children by accompanying them through court proceedings, advocating for their best interests, and standing for the creation of a dedicated juvenile immigrant justice system that ensures the safety and well-being of every child.

Ruling year info

2014

Executive Director

Gladis Molina Alt

Main address

2245 S. Michigan Ave, Suite 301

Chicago, IL 60616 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

26-1839249

NTEE code info

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

When immigrant children are apprehended in the U.S. without a parent or legal guardian, they are declared unaccompanied and transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). They are placed in removal proceedings and can ask for multiple forms of protection, which if granted, would allow them to remain in the U.S. But throughout their experience in our immigration system children will have few special protections recognizing their vulnerabilities as children. Most will go to court and have to defend themselves—with or without a lawyer—in adversarial proceedings designed for adults. Unlike many state courts adjudicating the rights of children, the immigration system does not apply a “best interests of the child” standard. This means, government officials do not have to consider the impact of their decisions on a child’s well-being, even if harm to the child is likely. The Young Center was created in 2004 to address these egregious systemic failures.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Child Advocate Program

The Young Center provides bilingual Child Advocates to accompany and advocate for the best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children in federal detention. The role of the Child Advocate is to ensure all decisions on behalf of an immigrant child considers their best interests—safety and well-being. The Advocate helps the child navigate the complex U.S. immigration system, accompanies then to court, learns their story, ensures they have legal representation, and advocates for their best interests. Young Center attorneys and social workers—experienced in immigration and child welfare law—provide best interests recommendations to immigration judges, asylum officers, deportation and removal officers, ICE trial attorneys, border patrol officers and other government officials. These recommendations detail the issues at stake and make specific requests around the child’s safety and well-being whether they remain in the U.S. or return to their home country.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

Based on learnings gained from our Child Advocate and Technical Assistance Programs, our Policy Program conducts advocacy at the national level to address anti-immigrant issues and incorporate the best interests of the child standard into practice, policy, and immigration law. In the U.S. there is currently no best interests mandate for decisions about immigrant children, so our policy work focuses on bringing best interests into agency policies and practice by advocating directly with federal agencies, but we also educate members of Congress, draft and respond to legislation, and develop questions for Congressional oversight of agencies. The Policy team’s current focuses are:
1) Promoting family unity and ending family separation;
2) Protecting children in federal custody;
3) Ensuring children’s access to a range of legal protections and immigration relief in the U.S.; and
4) Changing the narrative about and amplifying the voices of immigrant youth.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people
Immigrants and migrants
Victims and oppressed people

Our Technical Assistance Program's (TAP) overall objective is to help ensure immigrant children involved in state child welfare and juvenile justice systems can equitably exercise their right to permanency, well-being, and connection to family, language, and culture. TAP achieves this by offering cultural- and trauma-informed consultations, mentorship, trainings, and resources directly to the professionals working with immigrant children in state child welfare and juvenile justice systems. TAP cultivates relationships and collaborates with state court stakeholders, legal services providers, child welfare case workers, immigration attorneys and more to bridge the gaps between the immigration, child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people
Families

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of children provided a Child Advocate

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Child Advocate Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of children who have had one volunteer the entirety of the case.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Child Advocate Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

% of Best Interest Determinations accepted by decision makers with power over a child's case

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Child Advocate Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights mission is to protect and advance the rights and best interests of immigrant children according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and state and federal law.

Our vision is for all children in immigration proceedings to be recognized as children, and best interests be made a part of the decision-making process. We strive towards the creation of an immigration system that prioritizes children’s best interests and is designed around their needs and capabilities. We fight polices centered on deterrence and the criminalization of migration which only serve to demonize people. We expose the xenophobic and racist underpinnings of our current patchwork of laws and policies, and advocate for a reimagined system that supports children and their families in their journey to seek safety.

The Young Center is a champion for the best interests of children who arrive in the United States from all corners of the world. Some children come on their own, while others come with family or caregivers, but are forcefully separated from them by government officials. We serve as trusted allies for these children while they are in deportation proceedings, advocating for their best interests, and standing for the creation of a dedicated children’s immigrant justice system that ensures the safety and well-being of every child. We do this through our three programs :

The Child Advocate Program (CAP), where bilingual, bicultural volunteer Child Advocates (CA) accompany the most vulnerable children in detention to make recommendations that champion their best interests (guided by our Child Rights Paradigm). Supervised by our attorneys and social workers, CAs focus their advocacy on expedited release to family, improved custody conditions, trauma-informed care, and culturally/linguistically appropriate services in the hope of creating conditions that facilitate healing.

The Technical Assistance Program (TAP) expands our reach to children outside federal custody by providing technical assistance and training to those working with immigrant children involved in state child welfare and/or juvenile justice systems.

The Policy Program builds on learnings gained from CAP and TAP to incorporate the best interests of the child standard into practice, policy, and immigration law. We advocate for policies that call for healing and systems and resources to support healing (i.e., promoting family unity and ending family separation; ensuring children’s access to a range of legal protections and immigration relief in the U.S.).

The Young Center has been serving unaccompanied and separated children since 2004 and is confident that our staff is making meaningful changes in the lives of each child we have served. As the only non-profit that is allowed to appoint Child Advocates to unaccompanied and separated children, we address multiple gaps in services for children in federal detention. Over the nearly 20 years of service, we have refined our Child Advocate Program and have become experts within the immigration advocacy field.

In 2004, when the Young Center was created, “best interests” weren’t considered for children in deportation proceedings, and initially no protections for immigrant children’s “best interests” were included when the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act’s (TVPRA) was modified in 2008. The Young Center integrated the longstanding principle of “best interests of the child” into the immigration system in 2008, as well as, into federal law through the TVPRA provision on Child Advocates. Unaccompanied children also didn’t have the right to have their asylum case heard first by an asylum officer, and only a few children in Chicago were appointed Child Advocates; but the Young Center successfully persuaded Congress to change the process as part of the TVPRA. Today, our staff routinely submit Best Interests Determinations (BIDs) to decision-makers across the country. We serve as trusted allies for these children while they are in federal custody as well as post-release, standing for the creation of a dedicated children’s immigrant justice system that ensures the safety and well-being of every child.

In July 2023, the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) issued an important Director's Memorandum on Child Advocates. This new memo formally recognizes the role of Child Advocates in Immigration Court and acknowledged Child Advocates should be able to directly support immigrant children during their court proceedings. The memo explicitly establishes that Child Advocates can and should speak in court to advocate on behalf of children. (Notably, some immigration judges have, for years, refused to allow Child Advocates to formally submit their BIDs in court, arguing that Child Advocates had no standing in a child’s case). It is now clear to all immigration judges across the country that Child Advocates have a statutory role under the TVPRA to participate in children's immigration court hearings by identifying and advocating for each child’s best interests. The memo emphasizes the importance of BIDs and specifically states that immigration judges should accept and include our BIDs in the court record for consideration, which means that moving forward, our BIDs will remain part of a child’s case even if they move from one court to another.

Children Served
Since 2004, when the Young Center was founded, we have served over 7,000 children in deportation proceedings nationwide. In the beginning, with the Young Center’s founder as the only staff person, we served a small number of children each year. After growing to eight offices and a staff of 106, the Young Center was able to serve a total of 1,649 children during the past year, including 1110 new appointments and 538 continuing cases (cases to which we were appointed in a prior year but on which we are still working). Among these children, 707 were female-identified and 936 were male-identified. Additionally, 435 were of tender age (under 12 years), and 442 were 17 years old and would soon age out of ORR custody and face adult detention.

Best Interests Determinations
In the past 19 years, we’ve submitted more than 4,500 BIDs to immigration court judges, DHS, attorneys of record or potential legal service providers, ORR, state courts, and other service providers such as medical or mental healthcare. Of the BIDs submitted and reviewed, 87% were accepted, and 13% were denied. The issues addressed by the BIDs included: advocating for permanency, least restrictive placement in the best interests of the child as required under the TVPRA, release instead of transfer to adult immigration detention, safe repatriation, family reunification as required under the Flores Settlement Agreement, modification of court procedures, and others.

Other Major Accomplishments have included:
· In 2016, we helped develop the Framework for Considering the Best Interests of Unaccompanied Children, and in 2020 we released our report on Reimagining Children’s Immigration Proceedings: A Roadmap for an Entirely New System Centered around Children.
· In 2019, we testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on the harm inflicted by ongoing family separations; in 2020, we released our Family Separation Report, and since 2021, we’ve worked with and advised the White House Family Reunification Taskforce.
· In July 2022, our Policy team introduced the Children’s Safe Welcome Act, a landmark bill to ensure the federal government prioritizes the safety and well-being of each child navigating our country’s immigration system.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals, to get their consent to share their story in our best interest recommendations with decision makers

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve, Collecting honest feedback from children can be complex because of inherent power dynamics

Financials

THE YOUNG CENTER FOR IMMIGRANT CHILDRENS RIGHTS
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

THE YOUNG CENTER FOR IMMIGRANT CHILDRENS RIGHTS

Board of directors
as of 01/05/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Frances de Pontes Peebles

Author, Co-Founder, Project Heirloom

Term: 2025 - 2022

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/5/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/04/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.