Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

aka Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)   |   Washington, DC   |


KIND envisions a world in which children’s rights and well-being are protected as they migrate alone in search of safety. We will achieve our vision by: ensuring that no child appears in immigration court without high quality legal representation; advancing laws, policies, and practices that ensure children’s protection and uphold their right to due process and fundamental fairness; and promoting in countries of origin, transit, and destination durable solutions to child migration that are grounded in the best interests of the child and ensure that no child is forced to involuntarily migrate.

Ruling year info


Wendy Young

Ms. Wendy Young Esq.

Main address

1201 L Street, NW 2nd Floor

Washington, DC 20005 USA

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Formerly known as




NTEE code info

Legal Services (I80)

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

KIND helps immigrant and refugee children who come to the United States without a parent or legal guardian. Most are fleeing pervasive narco-trafficking, human trafficking, and gang violence in Central America—El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—from which their governments cannot or will not protect them. Others are fleeing severe abuse including sexual and gender-based violence, which includes rape, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, domestic violence, and forced or early marriage. A number have been abandoned or have lost their caregivers. The children range in age from toddlers to teenagers. The large majority of children KIND serves are from Central America, but KIND has been referred children from 72 different countries.

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?

Legal Representation

Since it became operational in January 2009, KIND has received referrals for approximately 17,776 unaccompanied children (UAC) in need of pro bono representation in their deportation proceedings. The overwhelming majority of these children have suffered some type of trauma such as child abuse, persecution, trafficking, or other kinds of violence. Many are victims of gang violence or other forms of civil conflict and social turmoil.

In response to the family separation emergency, over the past year KIND has diversified its funding support and significantly increased its capacity across the country. KIND has created a special programs team, dedicated to
providing services to separated children and families.

We remain the largest implementing partner to the Department of Health and Human Services in delivering pro bono services to children, have more than doubled the size of our legal services staff, staffing ten field offices across the country which act as legal sites for unaccompanied children.

In addition, through its robust pro bono model, KIND has trained more than 35,000 attorneys, paralegals, and law students since 2009; leveraged over $284 million in pro bono hours from 2009 to 2017. Attorneys donated 173,203 hours working on children’s cases in 2017 alone, and more than 554,000 hours since 2009.

KIND staff has worked with children from 70 countries and serves as experts to pro bono attorneys on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) claims, children’s asylum claims, and children’s claims involving petitions for T or U status for victims of trafficking or serious crimes, as well as other forms of relief. KIND also utilizes this expertise in providing in-house direct representation in cases in which pro bono placement is not a viable option. The results are striking; over 98 percent of KIND assisted cases are granted relief, underscoring the powerful results when the private sector contributes its expertise and resources to the representation of children.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants
Children and youth

KIND’s work in the region began with the Guatemalan Child Return and Reintegration Project (GCRRP), a unique initiative that ensures that unaccompanied children, who leave the United States because they are voluntarily returning home or because they have been ordered deported, are sent back to a safe place where they can access vital services In 2016, KIND expanded this work to include children returning to Honduras. Returning children struggle to re-enroll in school, resettle into their families and communities, overcome trauma they may have experienced during migration, and make a plan for a safer or brighter future. The Child Migrant Return and Reintegration Project (CMRRP), has served more than 300 returning migrant children and their families. KIND and its partners have helped children by ensuring there is coordination between their caregivers in the US and their families upon return, that they return to their communities safely, and that they receive reintegration services such as family reunification support, skills training, counseling, medical and mental health services, and help with school enrollment and scholarships. KIND’s model has had a less than 5% remigration rate, to the US or Mexico since 2015. Though modest in scale, KIND’s CMRRP serves as a successful model to governments, inter- governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations planning to develop or engage in reintegration services. Most recently, KIND launched the Central America Family Separation & Reunification Project in summer 2018 to provide a transnational response to complex cases which came as a result of the Family Separation crisis of 2018. Through this project KIND:
• assists deported parents in locating and establishing contact with their children and their children’s attorney
• contacts deported parents to determine preferences regarding reunification with their children and communicates parental preferences to the government pursuant to the family separation Ms. L litigation
• conducts screening of parents for protection needs and refers parents for legal representation as needed
• expedites repatriation in cases of the youngest separated children
• facilitates and provides logistical support for reunification of returning separated children with their parents
• provides ongoing psychosocial support to reunified separated families in Central America to heal familial bonds

KIND also works regionally with their Sexual and Gender Based Violence Initiative. While there has been increased attention to child migration from Central America, insufficient attention has been paid to the specific needs and experiences of unaccompanied girls who make the perilous journey to the United States. To respond to the needs of this uniquely vulnerable group, in 2015 KIND launched its Gender and Migration Initiatives (GMI), a new programming area focused on preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against migrant children. The GMI combines research, policy advocacy, and programming to promote the rights and protection of migrant children, including survivors of SGBV, in all phases of their migration journey. In 2016, KIND published two reports that show how sexual and gender-based violence, combined with lack of access to justice and protection, drives the forced migration of girls and LGBTI children and youth from Central America. In addition to our research, GMI partners with organizations in Guatemala to engage potential and returning migrant children in SGBV prevention programming. Our programming partners in Guatemala are Asociación Pop No’j, Colectivo Vida Digna, and ECAP.
In 2018 the GMI piloted SGBV prevention workshops with migrant youth in the Baltimore, and Washington DC areas, and we are currently working with Casa Alianza Honduras to expand this programming to Honduras in 2019.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Immigrants and migrants

KIND helps to increase awareness among policymakers and the public about the rights and needs of unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children. Key elements of KIND’s communications strategy include working to broaden and deepen our social media presence and foster greater engagement with our supporters; educating the public that the majority of unaccompanied children are potential refugees and should receive full access to due process and protections that they need and deserve as children; and creating a KIND Children’s Speaker’s Bureau that will provide children with opportunities to tell their stories however they choose: on our website/social media, via speaking engagements, in the media, and to policymakers.

In Washington, DC, KIND educates policymakers in the Administration and Congress on the critical need for legal representation of unaccompanied children and child survivors of mistreatment, exploitation, and trafficking—as well as how to strategically leverage the extraordinary response from the private sector legal community to help render the system more efficient and effective.

We are also working to prevent erosion of existing protections for unaccompanied children. The 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) ensures that children who arrive at our border alone receive full and fair access to the protections available to them under U.S. law and to basic due process protections. These protections have been under attack since the child migration crisis began in the summer of 2014. KIND successfully worked with our coalition partners to educate lawmakers about the critical importance of the TVPRA and to offer pragmatic solutions to the crisis that could help achieve orderly migration while at the same time preserving child protection.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants
Children and youth

In 2016, KIND expanded its legal services to include social services to better address the needs of vulnerable clients. KIND has increased its capacity to provide trauma-informed care and facilitate critical social services, including medical, mental health, and crisis intervention, for our child clients and their families to ensure they can effectively move forward with their legal cases and regain mental health and stability. KIND now maintains at least one full-time Social Services Coordinator (SSC) in each of our ten field offices. SSC's in each office work with KIND’s child clients and their families to identify needs and gaps in services, and assist families in accessing services related to education, health, mental health, housing, mediation, and child care.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Immigrants and migrants

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 clients assisted with legal needs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Number of clients working with an attorney during the year.

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.

1. Ensure that children who enter the immigration system alone are represented by high quality legal counsel.
2. Advocate for improvements in U.S. law, policy, and practices to support the protection of children who enter the United States immigration system alone.
3. Improve national and international policies and practices regarding the safe reunification and reintegration of unaccompanied children returning to their home countries, either voluntarily or through deportation.
4. Provide expert, evidence based and objective information on issues surrounding unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children.

KIND places child protection at forefront of all program strategies. KIND's innovative public-private model of pro bono legal representations mobilizes law firm, corporate and law school resources to assist more children, leveraging $4 for each $1 spent on KIND operations. KIND's pilot Guatemalan Child Return and Reintegration Program demonstrates that it is possible to help children return home safely and productively with modest inputs; it will serve as a model for replication elsewhere in Central America. To ensure that children get their best chance to present their case and obtain protection, KIND advocates for improved policies and practices that will make the immigration system fair, humane, and child friendly. By helping to reduce negative stereotypes and presenting a balanced information on unaccompanied children, KIND helps build support for their protection.

Recognizing that the issues extend beyond our borders, KIND's overall approach is holistic and addresses the root causes of child migration, working to protect children at all stages of journey -– during migration, in countries of transit and destination and when appropriate, upon return. We work with a range of stakeholders – from the Western Highlands of Guatemala to local communities in the US to Washington, DC -- to promote concerted and unified action. KIND utilizes its field operations and expertise on children's protection, to present a trusted voice on children's protection and immigration issues.

KIND's staff of 160 includes senior staff with decades of experience in children's rights, immigration and refugee law, policy, advocacy, communications and service delivery. KIND's 140-person legal services team across ten offices in the U.S. and our partnerships with a network of over 550 law firms, bar associations, corporate legal departments and law schools are integral to our provision of pro bono legal representation to unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children. From 2009 to 2017 these partners contributed over $284MM of in kind services, enabling us to jointly serve over 17,000 children as of 2017. In Central America, our partnerships with local nonprofits enable us to help children in isolated rural communities and support their reunification with their families following deportation or voluntary return. Collaborative relationships with nonprofit partners and networks in the US amplify and strengthen our advocacy and policy recommendations around the protection of unaccompanied children.

KIND has succeeded in helping raise the visibility of the plight of unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children, increased the legal representation resources available to them and helped thousands more children to access justice. However, the number of unaccompanied children fleeing danger and abuse in their home countries and seeking protection in the U.S. continues to grow. Despite the increased capacity of KIND and other legal service providers, thousands of children remain unrepresented in their deportation proceeding, thus losing their chance for a fair hearing and risking being returned to situations of danger. KIND will continue to strive to ensure that no child stands alone in immigration court. This i paired with this administrations attacks on the safeguards of children makes our work more crucial than ever.

Many of our child clients have suffered trauma, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), on their journeys to the U.S. All experience the stresses of adapting to new living situations, languages and schools. To help them access the medical, mental health, education and other critical services they need to fully participate in their immigration legal cases, KIND has added Social Services Coordinators (SSC) to all 10 offices, and is planning in continue to expand and grow in effectiveness and impact.

KIND's policy team provided technical assistance in the drafting of the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2016 legislation, which recognizes that the best way to ensure fair and just decisions for unaccompanied children in their immigration proceedings is by ensuring that they have counsel by their side. We need to ensure that more members of Congress, particularly those in leadership positions and ranking members of committees of jurisdiction, show support

Most of KIND's advocacy work to date has focused on policy at the federal level. Increasingly, however, states and localities are playing an active part in the protection of unaccompanied children. It is essential to the protection of our child clients that we educate and gain the support of officials at the state and local level as well as at the national level.

KIND partners with 14 law firms and over 20 non-profit organizations in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico to address the root causes of migration and build a regional response that protects children at all stages of their journeys toward safety and a productive life. But more resources are required to combat the violence, insecurity, extreme poverty that propel so many children to make the dangerous trip in search of safety and protection in the U.S.

In Guatemala, we demonstrated that young people can be helped to reunify safely with their families upon return. But thousands of children are being deported back to their home countries by Mexico and the U.S. and KIND is working to expand this work in Guatemala and to replicate it in Honduras and El Salvador to help more returning migrants.


Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

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


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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

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Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Brad Smith

Microsoft Corporation

Pamela Passman

Sonia Nazario

Kathleen Newland

Migration Policy Institute

Ronald Schechter

Arnold & Portner LLP

Maya Ajmera

Society for Science & the Public (SSP)

Rafael Borrás

A.T. Kearney

Aurora Cassirer

Troutman Sanders, LLP

Kurt Hansson

Paul Hastings LLP

Gary Wingens

Lowenstein Sandler LLP

Robert Cundall

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Elpidio Villarreal


Catalina Joos Vergara

O’Melveny & Myers

Mark Srulowitz

Brookfield Asset Management

Beth Henderson


Rachel Brass

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Claudia Romo Edelman

We Are All Human

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? No
  • 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 12/1/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


No data

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 12/18/2020

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

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • 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.