Federal Employees Asked to Help with Influx of Migrant Children

Federal employees are being asked to volunteer for a temporary detail to help with the care and placement of unaccompanied children seeking refuge in the United States.

The Office of Personnel Management issued a memo yesterday seeking to enlist the help of federal employees to assist with the influx of unaccompanied children seeking refuge in the United States.

In partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, OPM is seeking federal employees willing to serve up to a 120-day voluntary deployment detail to help out with the effort.

The work would be done in partnership with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). According to the agency’s website, its mission is to “provide people in need with critical resources to assist them in becoming integrated members of American society.”

OPM’s memo adds, “ORR’s Unaccompanied Children Program provides a safe and appropriate environment to children and youth who enter the United States without immigration status and without a parent or legal guardian who is able to provide for their physical and mental well-being.”

OPM notes that the temporary assignments are not promotion opportunities but are reimbursable detail; travel, lodging and per diem will be provided by ORR.

According to the detail announcement on USAJobs.gov, “Detailees will be compensated at their current rate of pay and with their current locality. Grade and step are not affected.”

The detail announcement also states that job responsibilities may include the following:

  • Maintain line of sight and supervision of children. 
  • Assess the needs of unaccompanied children in care.
  • Interview unaccompanied children in CBP custody and collect contact information for parents in home country and family members in the US. 
  • Efficiently collect and provide information to ORR to enable the National Call Center to begin contacting parents and family members to expedite children’s discharge to a US family member sponsor.
  • Assist CBP and ORR in identifying children requiring prioritization for placement based on vulnerable category or time in CBP custody.
  • Proficiency in Spanish is preferred, preferably with indigenous dialects spoken in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and/or El Salvador.

OPM’s memo adds these details:

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) needs current Federal government civilian employees for up to 120-day deployment details to support ORR at facilities for unaccompanied children. Locations currently include facilities along the Southwest U.S. border area, specifically Dallas, San Diego, San Antonio, and Ft Bliss. Locations will extend to other geographic areas according to the need. Details will involve contact with migrant children and a variety of other federal and non-federal entities, possibly including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other HHS employees. This is a reimbursable detail. Travel, lodging and per diem will be provided by ORR. The detail is not a promotion opportunity.

OPM is encouraging agency supervisors to allow interested federal employees to volunteer for the positions. Interested federal employees must submit application materials via the detail announcement on the USAJobs website.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.