AACAP Releases Policy Statement on Separating Immigrant Children from Their Families

Washington, DC, June 26, 2018 – The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) advocates putting an end to the practice of separating immigrant children from their families.

Parental support is an essential and proven factor for protecting children and helping children recover from the negative impacts of stress and trauma. When children experience sudden separation from one or both parents, they are at heightened risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other trauma-related reactions that may last for the rest of their lives. This is especially the case for children who are fleeing war, violence, or other traumatic situations in their home countries.

AACAP opposes policies that attempt to deter immigration by separating children from their parents. Separation places already vulnerable children at increased risk for traumatic stress reactions, psychiatric disorders, and other adverse medical outcomes. We support using the appropriate official agency, in this case child protective services, as the pathway to conduct a thorough investigation and document any child abuse or neglect requiring the child’s removal from the parent or caregiver before children and families are separated. AACAP also advocates for the provision of developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate, trauma-informed services for children and families, including the availability of evidence-based, trauma-focused treatment for children who develop significant trauma responses.

Read more on AACAP’s position:

AACAP Policy Statement, “Separating Immigrant Children from Their Families

The necessity and the timeliness of this resource cannot be understated. By declaring a strong stance on this current topic, AACAP aims to improve the health of youth everywhere.

Our policy statements are created to demonstrate the opinions of the organization, based on the input of our member experts

If you would like to speak to an expert, please reach out to communications@aacap.org.


The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry promotes the healthy development of children, adolescents, and families through advocacy, education, and research. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are the leading physician authority on children’s mental health. For more information, please visit www.aacap.org