Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

The Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program provides culturally- and linguistically-appropriate child welfare, foster care, and independent living services to minors who enter the United States (U.S.) unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.  

The State administered URM program differs from the Federally administered Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program, operated through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).  View URM/UAC Program Comparison Chart.

Populations served by the URM program include:

  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Cuban and Haitian Entrants
  • Victims of Trafficking
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJS) meeting certain criteria; and
  • U Status Recipients (victims of a qualifying crime).

Children and youth must be unaccompanied and under the age of 18 to enter the program, but can remain in the URM program in Colorado until age 21.  

Accompanied minors can become eligible for the URM program after arrival in the U.S. through a reclassification process (e.g. following family breakdown, a death in the family, etc.)  URM eligibility is determined by ORR.  

The URM program is 100 percent federally-funded by ORR and helps unaccompanied minors develop appropriate skills to enter adulthood and to achieve economic and social self-sufficiency as described in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program Fact Sheet. 

Federal, State and County Partners

Federal Partners

Two agencies voluntary assist ORR with the URM program, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) .  Affiliates of these two voluntary agencies contract with state refugee program to become URM service providers.

Colorado URM Partners
Since November 2008, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Refugee Services Program (CDHS/CRSP) has administered the Colorado URM program, contracting with one URM service provider: Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains (LFSRM), an affiliate of LIRS.  

The Division of Child Welfare (DCW), in coordination with CRSP, monitors the contract.  LFSRM operates URM programs from offices in Denver and Colorado Springs.

Custody is established with one of three counties – Clear Creek County, Denver County and El Paso County.  Federal regulations (45 CFR 400.116) provide for URM children and youth to receive the same range of child welfare benefits and services provided to other foster children in the state.