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Supporting Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth in U.S. Schools
with Laura Gardner, MSW & Natasha Quiroga, Esq.

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In 2021, we are experiencing another large wave of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the Southern border. These youth are in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and then reunify with family members and other sponsors in our communities. What brings these youth to the U.S., what happens when they get here, and how do they end up in our classrooms? What type of education, if any, do they receive while in ORR custody and how can we support these students when they enroll in our schools?

In this 3 hour workshop, participants will:

  • describe who unaccompanied immigrant youth are, including basic demographic characteristics and their reasons for coming to the U.S.

  • examine the Flores agreement and the role of Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the lives of unaccompanied immigrant youth

  • analyze what happens to children between the border and your classroom, including what is involved in locating a sponsor

  • explore the social-emotional, educational, and legal experiences of these youth as they reunify with family members, enroll in and adjust to school, and await their immigration hearings

  • and develop strategies for supporting unaccompanied immigrant students in your classroom and school.

Your Trainers:

Laura Gardner, MSW (she/her/ella) founded Immigrant Connections in 2017. She has 20 years of experience working in education, refugee resettlement, and social work.  While in education, she worked as a district level manager for immigrant family and community engagement as well as a school social worker. Laura also worked for Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) managing their national technical assistance initiative to federal Refugee School Impact Grantees.  Laura has facilitated professional development on building the capacity of teachers and school systems to engage immigrant families in their children’s education, language access, cultural competency, equity, unaccompanied immigrant children, immigrant family reunification, and refugee resettlement.  Laura holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in Education. 

Natasha Quiroga, Esq. (she/her/ella) has spent the past 20 years advocating for immigrant children, youth, and families as a lawyer, fundraiser, and executive director. Most recently, she was Director of the Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP) and Senior Counsel in the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Natasha led Flores Settlement Agreement monitoring visits to family and children’s detention facilities and managed pro bono engagement to support separated parents during the 2018 family separation crisis. Natasha has served as the first full-time Executive Director of Escuela Bolivia (now Educación Para Nuestro Futuro) in Arlington, Virginia, and advised state and local education agencies on compliance with federal education laws at an education law firm. Natasha received her J.D. from American University Washington College of Law and a Master's in International Politics with a concentration in Children and Youth Development from American University School of International Service. She received her B.B.A. and B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. Natasha is fluent in Spanish and is licensed to practice in New York. 

Notes about Registration:

  • To register with a credit or debit card, use the form below.  (You do not need a PayPal account to process payment.)

  • We also accept purchase orders for payment by invoice. Please email Jonny ( with the information you need from us to process the PO.  Once the PO has been set up, Jonny will register the attendees manually. 

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