DeLauro Pushes HHS for Answers on Children’s Care at the Border
WASHINGTON, DC (July 9, 2019) – Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, today led a letter to United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar regarding how HHS is using emergency supplemental funds provided by Congress. The letter was signed by every Democrat on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, as well as Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (NY-17).
“We are writing to request you provide the following information on the status of use of funds provided in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill that was signed into law by the President on July 1, 2019,” wrote the Members. “Given the humanitarian crisis at the border, it is critical that the funding provided by the Congress is used to ensure that the children in your care are safe, and that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is expediting their safe discharge.”
Below is the full text of the letter:
Dear Secretary Azar,
We are writing to request you provide the following information on the status of use of funds provided in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill that was signed into law by the President on July 1, 2019. Given the humanitarian crisis at the border, it is critical that the funding provided by the Congress is used to ensure that the children in your care are safe, and that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is expediting their safe discharge.
- Please provide the number of shelter beds, with documentation, that have been added in State-licensed facilities in response to funding opportunity HHS–2017–ACF–ORR–ZU–1132.
- Please provide the Request for Application to add beds in State-licensed facilities, and for contract costs to acquire, activate, and operate facilities that will include small- and medium-scale hard-sided facilities for which you intend to seek State licensure in an effort to phase out the need for shelter beds in unlicensed influx facilities.
- Please provide a spending breakdown, with documentation, of the funding that has been appropriated for post-release services, child advocates, and legal services. This must also be included in the spend plan that is required under Public Law 116-26. Furthermore, please detail how these services will be provided to the children in your care.
- Please provide a breakdown, with documentation, of the funding that has been appropriated to increase case management and case coordination services. This must also be included in the spend plan required under Public Law 116-26. Please detail how these increased services will be used to expedite the safe discharge of children.
- Please provide the status of the hiring project officers and program monitor staff dedicated to pursuing strategic improvements and for development of a discharge rate improvement plan (please make sure this is in the spend plan required under Public Law 116-26).
- Please provide the status with documentation of the transfer funding to the Office of the Inspector General.
- Please provide how ORR will ensure grantees and potential sponsors of the children are aware of current law regarding the use of information collected as part of the sponsor suitability determination process.
- Please provide details of the process to place the following children in a licensed facility because the child:
- is not expected to be placed with a sponsor within 30 days;
- is under the age of 13;
- does not speak English or Spanish as his or her preferred language;
- has known special needs, behavioral health issues, or medical issues that would be better served at an alternative facility;
- is a pregnant or parenting teen; or
- would have a diminution of legal services as a result of the transfer to such an unlicensed facility.
- Please provide a report by July 15 with respect to children who were separated from their parents or legal guardians by DHS, subsequently classified as unaccompanied, and transferred to the care and custody of ORR during the previous month.
- Please provide the requirements of the Office of Refugee Resettlement for influx facilities including any requirements listed in Exhibit 1 of the Flores Settlement Agreement that the Secretary determines are applicable to non-State licensed influx facilities.
It is imperative the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee receives a response no later than July 31, 2019, so we can ensure this funding is being used for the appropriate purpose and that the policy directives are being followed.