August 13, 2018

HHS Watchdog Reviewing Health and Safety Protocols at Migrant Facilities

Washington – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general is conducting a review of grantee facilities that house migrant families and children following media reports of sexual and physical abuse. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein recently called on inspectors general for HHS and the Department of Homeland Security to conduct such a review. At least one state agency has also investigated allegations of abuse at grantee facilities. However, on August 1, 2018, following a child protective services investigation, Shenandoah Valley Social Services in Virginia concluded that allegations of child abuse and neglect at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center were unfounded. The juvenile center is an ORR grantee facility.

In a letter Friday to the lawmakers, HHS inspector general Daniel Levinson noted that his office is conducting a review of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) grantee facilities, focusing on health- and safety-related issues, including how the facilities screen employees and how they identify and respond to incidents of harm. The grantee facilities temporarily house migrant children who illegally enter the country without adults while they await placement with family members or other sponsors.

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