The Care of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children in Islam: Exploring Kafala with Muslim Social Work Practice with Unaccompanied Refugee Minors in the United States

Karen Smith Rotabi, Nicole F. Bromfield, Justin Lee, Taghreed Abu Sarhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the unprecedented rise of unaccompanied refugee minors departing Middle Eastern and African countries, and especially Syria, for settlement in the USA and elsewhere in the Western world, authors consider the Islamic requirement of kafala or guardianship of unparented children, a topic little known or discussed in the social work literature. The concept of kafala is explored with a discussion of the literature and limited empirical evidence of how the care arrangement for children is actually enacted practically. Child rights frame the discussion. Then, implications for social workers, as well as carers, especially those working in the USA, are discussed with recommendations for social work service provision emphasizing practices that are culturally sensitive in an environment of multiculturalization.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Human Rights and Social Work
StatePublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Child sponsorship
  • Islam
  • Refugee minors


  • Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Social Work
  • Political Science
  • Curriculum and Instruction

Cite this