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Concerns outlined in the letter include efforts by HHS to redirect service providers assisting American children who have been abused or neglected to migrant children. The state has lost space for foster youth to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) as a result of recent federal action.
Additionally, insufficient vetting processes used by HHS, including virtual home studies, put vulnerable migrant children at risk of human and sex trafficking.
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"While we recognize the need of additional space to house unaccompanied minor children, the solution cannot be to try to obtain that space from providers that are essential for the state's child welfare agency to care for Arizona's abused and neglected children," the Governor continued in the letter. "Unfortunately, this is the route the ORR has taken."
ORR's current grant making and contracting practices create an unfair advantage that directly negatively impacts vulnerable foster children. Additionally, the recent passing of the Families First Prevention Services Act means states will no longer receive a federal share of reimbursement for children residing in beds from ORR. This removal will impact Arizona's budget by $25 million in State Fiscal Year 2022, and adds to the combined action that threatens to displace vulnerable American foster children from safe homes.
The Governor is urging the Secretary to immediately adjust HSS policies for the protection of foster children as well as migrant children.
The letter strongly urges the Administration for Children and Families to:
- Cease efforts to redirect licensed beds that are currently serving Arizona foster children;
- Review and adjust ORR's practice of vetting host sponsors through virtual home visiting; and
- Reconsider and adjust ORR's procurement practices for shelter beds that negatively influence the Arizona Department of Child Safety's ability to serve foster children.
Read the letter HERE.
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