Our Statement Regarding Policies and Licensing Related to Our Unaccompanied Minors Program

July 23, 2018 — Today, Heartland Alliance was pleased to share with City Council our policies, practices and licensing requirements related to the services we provide to unaccompanied minor and separated children. In response to questions about our city contracts, we can say that the unaccompanied minor program is fully funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Over the last week, we’ve heard allegations about our programs that are troubling as they do not reflect our values or the quality of care we strive to provide. As is our practice, upon learning about allegations, we immediately self-reported our concerns to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the Department of Children and Family Services. We are investigating and are reviewing incident reports, medical records, staff disciplinary reports, examining our policies and protocols, and more. We welcome additional investigation of our programs, and if any investigation reveals that a staff member placed a child in danger, we will take immediate action. Ensuring the safety and well-being of all children in our care is our top priority. We have augmented the staff capacity and oversight at our shelters while we await the outcome of all investigations, and all shelter staff are receiving additional mandatory training on trauma-informed care by the end of July.
                                                                                                                                                    
Heartland Alliance is a 130-year-old human rights organization that has been providing shelter to unaccompanied minors for more than 20 years. Children who are victims of the federal zero tolerance policy arrive at our doors sad, scared, even traumatized. In this time of chaos in a child’s life, our shelters provide a stable, nurturing environment while we work to reunite families. We stand alongside families and children seeking safety in the U.S., and we fervently believe that families belong together.

We are prohibited from sharing the numbers of separated children in our care. For additional information regarding specifics of our work with unaccompanied minors, please contact:

Administration for Children and Families
Office of Public Affairs
(202) 401-9215
media@acf.hhs.gov

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