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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Project: Campus only access

Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Lizano, Erica


The U.S. Customs Border Patrol reported a total of 67,339 children crossed the Mexican border illegally into the Unites States in the 2014 fiscal year. The Office of Refugee Resettlement found 34% came from Honduras, 32% from Guatemala and 29% from El Salvador. The United States has been strained with the task of finding, providing and funding adequate housing, health care and education amongst other things for these minors while they wait for court immigration proceedings. The purpose of this research was to explore the barriers social and human service agencies face in finding a safe, stable and nurturing environment for Central American unaccompanied undocumented minors in the United States. A qualitative method to understand the phenomenon was taken. This study revealed six common themes: 1) barriers in providing a safe, stable and nurturing environment was lack of the English language in the children and stigma surrounding immigration 2) barriers in education were lack of English language, financial situation and lack of transcripts or history of the child’s educational background, 3) barriers in health care was the limited access to health care 4) barriers in housing were crowded living situation, lack of affordable housing and placement in foster care, 5) barriers in language were the child’s limited knowledge of the English language, lack of bilingual providers, lack of educational material in Spanish, child’s limited knowledge of Spanish language, 6) other barriers not inquired about were the participants lack of knowledge of available resources for the children and the child’s immigration status.