June 28, 2018

Van Hollen Announces Funding to Help Children Impacted by Trump’s Family Separation Policy

Also Includes New Reporting Requirements for HHS Programs

Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen announced new funding to help children impacted by the Trump Administration’s family separation policy as part of the Fiscal Year 2019 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which passed the Committee today with broad bipartisan support.
The legislation includes $1.3 billion for the Unaccompanied Children (UAC) program, which handles children who have been separated from their parents at the border and has seen a huge influx following the Administration’s zero tolerance policy. The bill also imposes new significant reporting requirements on HHS to bolster Congressional oversight of the UAC program to ensure every child is appropriately cared for. The President’s budget cut this program $55 million.
“President Trump’s decision to tear apart families who are experiencing unimaginable horrors at home and seeking asylum in our country will be viewed as a dark moment in our history. We must now work with urgency to reunite families and ensure these children are receiving care. Over 2,000 kids remain forcibly separated from their parents, including an 18-month-old baby in Maryland. As we keep up the pressure to end this crisis, I’m pleased that we have provided funding to care for these children,” said Senator Van Hollen.
Senator Van Hollen recently traveled to the Texas border to help shine a light on President Trump’s shameful policy, which the Administration reversed last week after public outcry. He is also demanding that HHS provide information on every child being held in Maryland and what progress has been made in reuniting them with their families. He also joined 40 Senators in successfully demanding an HHS Inspector General report on the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Unaccompanied Alien Children program.
The new reporting requirements include:
·         At a minimum, monthly briefings to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on the status of balances and current expenditure rates, current trends in the UAC program, any planned or implemented policy that impact the UAC program, and updated cost estimates;
·         Notification of the Committees prior to making any administrative changes to the UAC program including, but not limited to, policies potentially impacting the number of children referred to HHS; shelter operations, including the placement of children with sponsors; and any post-release services;
·         Report in its existing weekly updates additional information, including, for both all UACs and the children who were apprehended as part of a family unit, the number of children referred to HHS, the number currently in their care, the age and gender distribution of children, the average length of stay, the number of preteen children in both shelter beds and ORR-run foster care programs, the number of children released to sponsors, and the category of sponsor;
·         Include historical monthly totals for all information provided, updated as it becomes available;
·         The Committee also expects that separated families will have the opportunity to communicate regularly by telephone with one another and directs HHS to provide any updates in the mechanisms for facilitating contact between children and verified family members with whom they arrived at the border, and the number of children who have been reunited with those family members;

·         Provide a report, within 30 days of enactment, on its process for monitoring contractors and addressing allegations of abuse and neglect in UAC shelters.