Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, today requested answers about serious allegations of misconduct and abuse by federally-funded grantees operating facilities that house unaccompanied migrant children.
In a letter to Lynn Johnson, the Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Wyden and Grassley raised concerns about the severity and systemic nature of allegations against these taxpayer-funded grantees and whether the Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is meeting its responsibility to hold its grantees accountable and ensure the health and safety of children in their care.
“Recent reports detail horrific and intolerable allegations of excessive compensation, self-dealing, and sexual abuse perpetrated by these taxpayer-funded grantees,” Wyden and Grassley wrote in their letter to Johnson. “These allegations raise serious questions about how some grantees have used federal funding, and whether ORR has failed to uphold its statutory duties to ensure the health and safety of children within their care.”
To better understand the relationship between ORR and its grantees, Wyden and Grassley requested that Johnson provide a response to a series of questions by May 31, 2019 regarding:
· Grantee, facility and occupancy data;
· Incident reporting and grantee incident history;
· Sexual abuse prevention and enforcement;
· Federal and state regulation and oversight of children’s shelters;
· Reunification procedures and practices;
· Extent of local government oversight and legal basis for limits of such oversight for ORR shelters; and
· Financial and organizational accountability of ORR shelter grantees.