Children Entering the United States Unaccompanied: Section 5
Section 5: Program Management
ORR has policies in place to ensure that ORR and ORR funded care providers consider the best interests of unaccompanied alien children when responding to inquiries from the media. As a federally funded program, ORR is committed to public transparency and accountability. As a service provider, we are committed to protecting the privacy and safety of the children in our care. Accordingly, ORR requires that grantees make a case-by-case evaluation of each media inquiry in a timely manner, while recognizing the overarching mission of providing for the physical and mental well-being of unaccompanied alien children in our care.
ORR funded care providers may be approached by members of the media for background information, requests for interviews with staff and unaccompanied alien children, and requests for tours of the facility. ORR grantees can respond to any and all media inquiries about their organization and any of the organization’s activities as described in 5.1.1. ORR works with the ACF Office of Public Affairs (OPA) to address media requests that are outside the scope for care providers as described in 5.1.2.
5.1.1 Policies for ORR Grantees
When handling requests from the media, the following standards apply to grantees:
- The care provider organization may discuss activities of their own organization, but not those of other grantees For questions about ORR or its programs, or about Federal or administration policy related to unaccompanied alien children, the reporter should be referred to the ACF Office of Public Affairs at 202-401-9215.
- In order to ensure the privacy and security of the children in its care, ORR and its grantees do not discuss specific cases or individuals with members of the media or others.
- Addresses of shelters must not be published or publicized. If a reporter obtains an address by other means, the organization should explain the security reasons for not publishing those addresses. Grantees may not have media at shelters, or arrange for tours or visits without going through ORR. (Requests for facility tours will be handled by ORR as described in 5.1.4 in a manner to protect the security and privacy of the unaccompanied alien children and with minimal disruption to the program).
In addition to these policies, ORR recommends that care providers use “best practices” in media relations. These include: developing talking points, which help representatives of an organization communicate clearly and effectively with the media; directing the media to the ORR website and other resources for more information about ORR’s UAC Program; and preparing individuals who are handling press inquiries to answer the most common questions and respond in ways that effectively communicate the organization’s achievements and contributions. Facilities experiencing a high volume of inquiries or facing difficulties in responding to complex requests should contact ORR.
ORR care providers may receive inquiries on topics outside their expertise and authority or that would not meet the standards described above. These inquiries may include questions about ORR policies, activities at the national level, requests to interview specific unaccompanied alien children, and requests for data, such as the number of children in ORR care, names, nationalities, background and other aggregate information about the program. In those instances, ORR care providers must forward these requests to their ORR Project Officer (PO), with a copy to the ORR Federal Field Specialist (FFS) and ORR communications staff. ORR then works with the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) to provide to the media an official, up-to-date and accurate response. During an influx, ACF may create special procedures to address the high volume of inquiries.
To safeguard the privacy and well-being of unaccompanied alien children in ORR care, it is ORR’s policy to decline requests by the media to interview youth in ORR custody. In exceptional circumstances, ORR may consider a media request for an interview with a particular child and will evaluate the following factors in conjunction with OPA prior to making a decision about allowing the press to interview a specific child.
- Is the interview in the best interest of the child? (taking into consideration the child’s placement, mental health situation, education, physical condition, culture, background and family in the United States)
- Is the child represented by counsel? If yes, does the attorney support an interview with the press?
- Does the DHS believe there may be an adverse impact on the child’s immigration case?
- Will the interview be disruptive to the facility or other children in the facility?
- Will special arrangements be needed? (e.g., interpreter, security)
- How will the interview be conducted (e.g., video, phone)? How long will the interview be?
- Are there preferable alternatives?
The press may want to see a facility but not speak with the children.
To maintain the privacy, security and well-being of the children, we generally do not do media tours of facilities when children are present.
However, in certain circumstances, ORR will consider a request and evaluate the following factors in conjunction with OPA prior to making a decision about allowing the press to visit a particular facility.
- To what extent will the visit be disruptive to the facility or children in the facility?
- Will special arrangements be needed? (e.g., security)
- How will the visit be conducted? (e.g., interviews with facility staff, number of reporters) How long will the visit be?
- Are there preferable alternatives?
The media may ask for general information and data about the program, such as the number of youth in ORR’s care, and the names, nationalities and backgrounds of children. ORR releases a wide range of data that is posted to the ACF website. This data includes number of children in the program, aggregate information on country of origin, and county-level data for counties where more than 50 children have been released. Grantees may always refer media or others to this website: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/programs/ucs/about. ORR does not release the names of unaccompanied alien children or other private, identifying information. In addition, ORR generally does not allow photographs or videos to be taken that could reveal the identity of a youth in ORR care. OPA can provide still and, in some cases, video images of facilities for the media to use.
Interested parties, including advocacy groups, faith-based organizations, researchers, government officials, and other relevant stakeholders who wish to visit a care provider facility must request a visit through ORR. ORR considers various factors when responding to these requests as described in 5.2.1 with the best interests of the child of paramount importance. For media requests please refer to section 5.1 Responding to Inquiries from the Media.
ORR will use the following criteria to evaluate the visit request:
- Requestor has a legitimate mission or business purpose for participating on a visit (e.g. State, local government matter, child welfare advocacy, legal issue, etc.).
- The privacy and well-being of children at the care provider facility will not be adversely affected by the visit.
- There are sufficient staffing and ground resources to conduct the visit and protect the privacy and well-being of children. ORR will also consider the number of visitors subject to the request.
- There is sufficient notice of a request. Requests should be submitted two weeks prior to the visit. Requests not received within this time frame may be considered if there are exigent circumstances.
Special arrangements, such as additional security and accessibility issues, may be necessary for certain types of visits. Such arrangements must be included in the submitted request and will be coordinated prior to the approved visit. Requests which include access to specific individuals, such as care provider staff or children, during the visit will be coordinated with the ORR/FFS. Any specific individual who the requestor wishes to speak with during the visit must be identified prior to the visit. ORR will only approve such requests if it is consistent with the best interest of the child.
Interested parties and stakeholders may tour ORR care provider facilities under certain conditions, which may include congressional oversight visits, UAC interviews, and observation (see Section 5.2.1 Evaluation Criteria). The protocol described in this section does not apply to UAC visits by family members, potential sponsors, legal representation, child advocates, or consular officials. For policies governing visits by family members, please refer to Section 3.3.10 Telephone Calls, Visitation, and Mail. For consular visits, please refer to Section 5.4.4 Visitation.
All visits must also be conducted in a manner that is consistent with ORR’s legal and child welfare obligations to treat all children in care with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as unaccompanied alien children.
Visitors may tour State-licensed facilities (shelters, residential treatment centers, staff secure and secure facilities, etc.) and temporary influx care facilities. Tours must be conducted in accordance with ORR’s policies and procedures, as well as the internal policies and procedures of the individual care provider facility.
In general, a maximum of six people, counting interpreters or others acting in a support capacity, may enter a care provider facility during a single tour. Visitors whose names are not provided in advance of the visit will not be accommodated. Tours must take place during normal business hours, and may last no longer than one and a half hours.
Generally, tours must be conducted in a manner that minimizes disruption to the normal functioning of the care provider facility. Visitors must also be sensitive to staff responsibilities and must stay with their ORR federal guide at all times. Visitors may not interact with staff or children unless specifically approved (see Section 5.2.2 Special Arrangements). Visitors are prohibited from searching cabinets, drawers, the personal belongings of staff and UAC, and other unauthorized areas operated by the care provider facility, which may contain sensitive information about the children in care.
It is important to note that children housed in ORR care provider facilities are living with significant trauma; therefore, visitors must demonstrate appropriate adult role-modeling at all times (e.g., conveying respect and empathy toward others, including facility staff, in words and actions), as children may be observing the visit.
ORR does not allow any type of recording device, including phones and cameras, inside the care provider facilities during tours. Also, identifying information, such as the care provider facility’s physical address, may not be shared with individuals who are not approved for tours.
ORR reserves the right to end the tour of any visitor who violates this tour protocol policy, other ORR policies, or the care provider facility’s policies and procedures.
Members of the United States Congress (that is, members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate) may, for the purposes of conducting oversight, visit ORR care provider and influx care facilities, provided:
- Members of Congress coordinate the oversight visit with ORR no less than two business days prior to the visit. This time frame ensures that operations at ORR facilities will not be disrupted and that Congressional visits do not interfere with the child welfare and child safety operations of the facility.1
- Members of Congress, upon request, shall provide official, government-issued photo identification to show that the visitor is a member of Congress (such as a Congressional I.D. card).
- Staff accompanying any elected official must show current identification from the respective legislative body to confirm they serve in an official governmental role for an elected official.
Congressional staff, including those from a member’s office, are required to adhere to the general requirements of Section 5.2 ORR Policies on Requests to Visit ORR Care Provider Facilities, including the requirement to submit a request two weeks prior to the visit, unless they are accompanying the member of Congress.
ORR care provider staff should follow their organization’s policy regarding testimony. This may include talking to the care provider’s attorney. If care provider staff do testify, they must make clear that they do not represent ORR and that their testimony does not reflect the opinion or position of ORR.
Care providers must maintain the confidentiality of children’s information, and must protect it from unauthorized disclosure. Therefore, as a general matter, they may not reveal client information in affidavits or testimony, where not legally required to so, and without ORR approval. However, care providers may allow a youth 14 and older, who wishes the staff to testify or provide a declaration, to consent, in writing, to the testimony, and then ORR could approve the disclosure of the confidential information.
For children younger than 14, or who do not have the capacity to consent, the care provider should seek the written consent of the child’s parent or legal guardian in order to include confidential information in an affidavit or written or verbal testimony. If such consent is not available, the care provider should contact ORR.
The records of unaccompanied alien children are the property of ORR, and care providers may not release records without prior approval from ORR.
ORR and its care providers must follow consulate notification protocols established under international and federal law. Under most circumstances, ORR must notify an unaccompanied alien child’s consulate that the child is in ORR custody and provide the location of the care provider facility. unaccompanied alien children must have reasonable access to consulate officials, and in some cases may be required to meet with consulate officials at the request of the consulate. ORR’s policies cover notification, access, visitation and documentation of contact with consulates. These policies at section 5.4.7 also highlight the areas in which ORR and consulates partner to improve program procedures and the treatment of children.
How does ORR notify consulates that their citizens are in ORR custody?
- Children from countries requiring Mandatory Notification2
If the youth is from a country requiring mandatory notification, the care provider working with their ORR/FFS must notify the child’s consulate as soon as practicable. The care provider must notify the consulate even if notification is against the child’s wishes. If the youth or child is claiming credible fear or seeking asylum, the care provider must still notify the consulate that the child is in ORR custody; however, under no circumstances should a care provider, ORR/FFS, or other stakeholder notify the consulate that the child is claiming credible fear or seeking asylum.
- Children from countries NOT requiring Mandatory Notification
If the youth is from a country not requiring mandatory notification, the care provider is not required to notify the consulate. However, if a particular consulate or region has made a formal request for standing notification of its citizens, ORR may, in its discretion, instruct the care provider to provide notice on terms agreed to between ORR and the consulate. For example, ORR and a consulate may agree on the frequency of notifications and the information provided, balancing the consulate’s need for information about its citizens and ORR’s need to ensure the effective functioning of the program and the privacy of the children. Even if ORR has entered into an agreement with a consulate, the care provider and ORR/FFS may not under any circumstances share the name of a child or any other information about a child claiming credible fear or seeking asylum from a country not requiring mandatory notification.
During the admission orientation (within 48 hours of arrival into care), the care provider must inform unaccompanied alien children of their right to contact their consulate and give the youth reasonable access to a telephone and contact information for the consulate. If a child requests to meet with a consulate official, the child’s Case Manager will arrange, with the consulate, a time to meet with the child at the care provider facility.
To meet with a child in ORR care, consulate officials must make a request by following ORR’s facility visit policy at section 5.2 ORR Policies on Requests to Visit ORR Care Provider Facilities. Consulate access to a child depends on whether the child is from a country requiring “mandatory notification” or a country NOT requiring “mandatory notification.”
- Children from countries requiring mandatory notification:
If the youth is from a country that requires mandatory notification, the care provider makes arrangements for the visit as soon as reasonably possible, regardless of whether the child wishes to meet with the consulate official. This is true even if the child is claiming credible fear or seeking asylum.
- Children from countries NOT requiring mandatory notification:
If the youth is from a country not requiring mandatory notification, the care provider must attempt to make contact with the child’s parent or legal guardian to seek permission for the child to meet with a consulate official.3 However, if the parent or legal guardian is unavailable or unable to respond within 72 hours of the request, the care provider may presume the visit is authorized, unless the child objects or is claiming credible fear or seeking asylum, in which case, the care provider must deny access to the specific child.
What if consulate officials wish to visit a facility, but not meet with a particular child?
Consulates requesting general visits, such as requests to tour care provider facilities or meet with program staff, must submit a visit request following ORR’s facility visit policy at section 5.2 ORR Policies on Requests to Visit ORR Care Provider Facilities and ORR will evaluate the request as described in the policy.
Can consulate officials bring other visitors with them on visits to a care provider facility?
If consulate officials wish to bring non-consulate officials, such as foreign dignitaries or third-parties, they must submit a request following ORR’s facility visit policy at section 5.2 ORR Policies on Requests to Visit ORR Care Provider Facilities [hyperlink] and include in their request all individuals wishing to visit the facility. ORR will evaluate the request as described in the policy.
Case Managers will arrange for consular visits by providing a private space for the consulate official and the unaccompanied alien child to meet. The visits will follow the care provider’s general time, place and manner restrictions regarding visits so as to minimize the disruption to care provider facility operations.
If consulate officials want to receive information on children in ORR care (other than whether the children are currently placed at a particular ORR care provider facility) they must make a request to ORR. ORR, in its discretion, may approve or deny the request. In making a decision, ORR takes into consideration the availability of the information and the children’s privacy concerns. As a general policy, ORR does not release private information, such as medical and mental health records, unless the child provides consent.
Care providers must maintain documents in individual unaccompanied alien child case files regarding requests for access to individual children and meetings between children and their consulate. Case Managers must document this information in Case Manager notes.
Care providers must maintain documents of general visits or other requests from consulates that are not specific to individual children.
ORR partners with foreign consulates in a number of areas including:
- The authentication of foreign documents, such as birth certificates. ORR or its care providers may contact consulates to authenticate documents to assist in age determinations and the establishment of familial relationships between youth and potential sponsors.
- Family tracing activities. Through family tracing activities, consulates often assist Case Managers so that unaccompanied alien children can communicate with their families in their home countries. This assistance is critical to the work of Case Managers, especially when a child’s family is located in remote or rural towns that lack telephone access, or cases where the youth’s family is unknown or the child is too young to communicate.
- Provision of information related to crimes to which the UAC may be a perpetrator, witness or victim in their home country. When consulates are able to assist ORR in locating this information, it informs ORR’s decisions concerning placements, services and release options.
This section covers ORR’s monitoring activities, the roles and responsibilities of ORR staff, foster care monitoring, and care provider internal monitoring activities.
ORR conducts monitoring visits at least monthly to ensure that care providers meet minimum standards for the care and timely release of unaccompanied alien children, and that they abide by all Federal and State laws and regulations, licensing and accreditation standards, ORR policies and procedures, and child welfare standards. ORR increases the frequency of monitoring if it is warranted by issues identified at a facility. In addition, if ORR monitoring finds a care provider to be out of compliance with requirements, ORR issues corrective action findings and requires the care provider to resolve the issue within a specified time frame. ORR also provides technical assistance, as needed, to ensure that deficiencies are addressed.
As described below, the corrective action is the cornerstone of ORR’s monitoring policy. These corrective actions are issued at any time as a result of ORR’s various monitoring activities. The combined expertise of the ORR team allows for field staff to report on-the-ground findings, particularly in areas of licensing and cases involving specific children, and for program staff in headquarters to evaluate issues related to budget, program management, and risk assessment.
ORR’s overall goal is always to ensure the care and safety of unaccompanied alien children in its custody. Therefore, ORR may discontinue funding, halt placements and remove children from a facility, and/or close programs that fail to address findings needing corrective action in a timely and effective manner. ORR’s notification procedures and monitoring activities provide for an immediate response involving safety and security issues.
ORR monitoring is an ongoing, multi-layered process that provides consistent oversight of all components of a care provider’s program, including program design, management, services, safety and security, child protection, case management, personnel management, stakeholder relations, and fiscal management. The monitoring policies addressed in this section are those that create formal accountability standards and check points at regularly scheduled intervals.
ORR monitoring activities include the following:
- Desk Monitoring: Ongoing oversight based on the HHS grants management model, which includes monthly check-ins with the care provider’s Project Officer (PO), regular record and report reviews, financial/budget statements analysis, and communications review.
- Routine Site Visit Monitoring: Day long visits to every facility on a once or twice monthly basis, both unannounced and announced, to review policies, procedures, and practices and guidelines compliance. Generally, these visits are limited to review of case management services.
- Site Visits in Response to PO or Other Requests: Visits for a specific purpose or investigation, for example, in response to a corrective action plan.
- Monitoring Visits: Week long monitoring to the site not less than every two (2) years to conduct a comprehensive review of the program.
Desk monitoring refers to ongoing oversight from ORR headquarters. Desk monitoring includes regular reviews of records and reports, such as annual goals and objectives, quarterly program reports, Significant Incident Reports (SIRs), ORR reports about the timely and accurate use of the UAC Portal Database, and financial reports. It also includes regular calls with care provider Program Directors and others, to become knowledgeable about the infrastructure and management systems of the individual programs and to review data found in required documents and reports. To ensure compliance with policies and procedures and to follow-up on SIRs, ORR staff also request facility case files and spot check them for accuracy and completeness.
Routine Site Visits
ORR staff conducts routine day long site visits at least once a month at each facility to observe service delivery and to review records and procedures. During site visits, ORR representatives attend “case staffings” (meetings that take place with care provider staff, Case Coordinators and others, where individual UAC cases are discussed) at care provider facilities to observe how care provider teams are collaborating and the effectiveness of the case management system as a whole. ORR receives monthly reports on all care provider facilities based on the findings from these site visits as well as quarterly reports on each facility identifying strengths and weaknesses, identified concerns and training needs.
All issues from desk monitoring or site visits that concern safety or security issues or otherwise need elevation are reported to ORR supervisors immediately.
The monitoring visit, conducted not less than every two years, consists of a comprehensive inspection based on information submitted by the care provider prior to the visit and during the visit and interviews with staff, unaccompanied alien children, and stakeholders. The formal monitoring visit utilizes templates and checklists and other tools that must be completed at each site. The last step in the process is ORR’s submission of a monitoring report to the provider (30 days after the visit) with a list of corrective actions that must be addressed. A corrective action is any finding that indicates noncompliance with explicit policies or procedures defined by ORR. The care provider has up to 30 days to submit a response to the corrective action plan, indicating how the program has corrected or will remedy any noncompliance. However, ORR may require more immediate action when appropriate and will notify the care provider.
Prior to the Monitoring Visit, the care provider must provide to ORR written responses to standardized questions about their operations (the Site Visit Guide), including questions on internal quality assurance practices, child protection, case management, health, education, and other services, and administration and financial management. As detailed below, care providers also provide documents to ORR prior to the visit and during the visit.
Relevant documents, reports, and files examined prior to and during a monitoring site visit include but are not limited to:
- Grant application/cooperative agreements
- Completed answers to the Site Visit Guide
- Recent organizational chart of facility staff
- Educational curriculum and weekly class schedule
- Food services/menus, and applicable employee food safety certification
- Facility lease
- Copies of applicable State and local licenses, State licensing requirements (or links to those requirements) and recent State licensing inspection reports
- Recent Audit Report and Financial Status Report
- Recent vehicle inspection
- Safety and sanitation certificates—Fire inspection report
- Quality assurance procedures and internal monitoring resources
- Most recent Quarterly Report
- Current approved Fiscal year budget
- Recent SIRs
- Reports from previous monitoring visits (including corrective action plans) and site visit reports by other ORR staff or contractors.
- UAC case files
- Care provider staff personnel files
- Care provider’s internal policies and procedures
- Care provider’s UAC grievance policy, and copies of UAC grievances
- Materials and reports about the provider’s timely and accurate use of the UAC Portal Database
The week-long Monitoring Visit includes, but is not limited to, standardized interviews with the lead teams of every program component (for example, the Lead Teacher, Lead Clinician) as well as the Program Director, stakeholders (such as the local Legal Service Provider, the Case Coordinator, the Medical Provider, non-HHS Federal agency partners, and others) and unaccompanied alien children. The visit includes a thorough inspection of the physical facility. As with any monitoring activity, care providers must comply with ORR requests for access to the physical facility, program information and case files.
Each site visit generally involves the review of 3-15 randomly chosen case files and related documentation; review of personnel files, review of related documents from the list above; and review of submitted SIRs and internal incident reports from the care provider.
In secure care facilities, the Monitoring PO will review the Further Assessment Swift Track (FAST) Assessment information (used to reevaluate the placement of youth in secure care facilities) in the case file to make sure youth placed in secure care are assessed every 30 days for the possibility of a transfer to a less restrictive setting.
The Monitoring PO consults with the assigned Project Officer, FFS, Case Coordinator, CFS, and DCS Medical Coordinator and meets with the PO and FFS to discuss any findings and any positive or negative trends identified.
ORR monitoring and compliance responsibilities are divided among the teams noted in the table below. The teams work collaboratively but also independently in order to provide a higher level of scrutiny and focused attention on various tasks.
Roles and Responsibilities in ORR Monitoring and Compliance Model
|ORR Monitoring Team: Project Officers who are assigned exclusively to monitoring and overseeing compliance with program management, services, safety and security, child protection, case management, personnel management, and fiscal management.||The review includes review of policies and procedures, reports, and case files and includes a 5-day visit and inspection of the facility to review additional reports/case files/ other documents, interviews with staff, children and youth, and stakeholders. A monitoring report (30 days after the visit) documents corrective actions. Care providers must respond with a corrective action plan within 30 days.||Every two years|
|Contractor Field Specialist (CFS) Team: Conduct regular independent site visits to all care provider facilities to provide technical assistance and to identify practices that deviate from ORR policies and procedures.||
Routine site visits to every care provider (each CFS is assigned to specific care providers) to observe the facility first hand. Visits may be announced or unannounced. CFS provide ORR with monthly reports on all findings and quarterly reports that summarize the particular strengths and weaknesses, concerns and training needs of each facility, with special attention given to the provision of case management services.
|Monthly or twice a month to every care provider|
|ORR Project Officer (PO) Team: Project Officers that are assigned to oversee specific care provider facilities and who may elevate issues that arise based on day-to-day oversight.||Conducts ongoing desk monitoring by reviewing all required documents and reports.
POs are responsible for overseeing the care provider’s implementation of its corrective action plans.
|Ongoing; Monthly conference calls with assigned care providers.|
|ORR Federal Field Specialist (FFS) Team||As the local ORR liaison with care providers and stakeholders, FFS are ORR’s “eyes and ears” on the ground in specified regions and serve as the regional approval authority for transfer and release decisions. FFS may issue corrective actions (along with the Program POs and the Monitoring POs).||Ongoing|
If a care provider is found to be out of compliance with ORR policies or procedures based on monitoring activities, ORR will communicate the concerns in writing to the Program Director or appropriate person through a written monitoring or site visit report, with corrective actions and child welfare best practice recommendations. The need for a corrective action occurs when the care provider is in noncompliance with explicit ORR policy and procedures.
The following table summarizes how the ORR corrective action team divides up responsibilities to make sure that all areas are reviewed for each care provider.
|Individual Issuing the Corrective Action||Areas Covered|
|ORR Project Officer||
Following the issuance of corrective actions, the PO or FFS will request a response to the corrective action findings from the Program Director and determine a time frame for resolution and the disciplinary consequences for not responding within the required timeframes.
The care provider’s corrective action plan must include:
- The cause of noncompliance, because effective corrective action cannot be taken without first making a determination of the cause of noncompliance;
- Clear and concise statements of corrective actions (include person/s responsible and timelines);
- Thorough descriptions of corrective actions that reference specific documents, procedures, etc.;
- The date of completion of the corrective actions; and
- Evidence supporting the claim that a corrective action has been fully and effectively implemented and that the corrective action has been performed in the way that it was described.
Care providers who provide care and services for unaccompanied alien children through a sub-contract or sub-grant with a foster care home are responsible for conducting annual monitoring or site visits of the sub-recipient, as well as weekly desk monitoring. This includes evaluating the recipient’s compliance with applicable Federal, State and local laws. Upon request, care providers must provide findings of such reviews to the designated ORR PO.
To assess care providers with foster home arrangements, ORR evaluates and monitors the care provider on-site and through desk monitoring, but may also conduct monitoring at foster homes, as necessary.
Care providers with foster home arrangements are subject to the same monitoring schedule as other care provider facilities but the activities are tailored to the foster care arrangement. For example, ORR Monitors, during on site monitoring visits, may schedule a visit with the grantee staff of a particular foster care home to conduct a first-hand assessment of the home environment and the care provider oversight of the home.
In addition to the routine monitoring process, ORR has an Abuse Review Team (ART) that quickly reviews allegations of abuse that are particularly serious or egregious in nature. The team is composed of ORR staff with the appropriate expertise to assess these allegations, including members of ORR’s Monitoring Team, the Division of Health for Unaccompanied Children, and ORR’s Prevention of Sexual Abuse Coordinator.
The ART evaluates and conducts a desktop monitoring of all allegations that fall into one of the categories below. ORR leadership may also ask the ART to review other abuse allegations of particular interest.
- Sexual abuse of an unaccompanied alien child by a staff member or other adult as defined at 45 CFR 411.6;
- Sexual abuse of an unaccompanied alien child by another unaccompanied alien child as defined at 45 CFR 411.6, with the exception of allegations involving intentional touching;
- Physical injury of an unaccompanied alien child by a staff member or another unaccompanied alien child that includes lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe bruising or serious bodily harm;
- Negligent treatment of an unaccompanied alien child or children that includes failure to provide adequate food, clothing, or shelter so as to seriously endanger the physical health of the child;
- Inappropriate use of discipline, including corporal punishment, that result in humiliation, mental abuse, or punitive interference with the daily functions of living, such as eating or sleeping;4
- Negligent treatment of an unaccompanied alien child or children that includes failure to provide routine or urgent medical, mental, or dental care, and necessary medications, so as to seriously endanger the physical or mental health of the child;
- Inappropriate use of health interventions, including quarantine, isolation, physical or chemical restraints, or delayed discharge.
In addition to desktop monitoring, the ART may identify measures that are necessary to ensure the safety of the children and youth in the care provider facility where the allegation occurred. These measures may include:
- On-site monitoring of the care provider where the allegation occurred conducted by members of the ART;
- Monitoring of the corporate offices to review internal policies and reporting structures, as well as supervisory response to events;
- Limiting new placements of unaccompanied alien children at the care provider facility;
- Stopping placement at the care provider facility where the allegation occurred;
- Removing all minors in the unaccompanied alien children program from the care provider facility and placing them into other local care provider facilities;
- Issuing corrective actions; or
- Closing the care provider facility.
Care provider facilities must have their own internal monitoring processes that may be set by the care provider’s organization and the professional accreditation agency with which they are associated or by which they are licensed.
Care providers are expected to conduct internal monitoring, evaluation, and continuance quality assurance assessments on a quarterly basis in order to identify areas in need of improvement and/or modification. The care provider’s monitoring, evaluation, and quality assessment plan must include measures to evaluate how the facility:
- Complies with Federal laws and regulations, ORR policies and procedures, and state and local licensing requirements
- Fulfills the program’s Statement of Work with ORR as well as the terms of the cooperative agreement or contract
- Identifies issues subject to corrective action plans
- Fulfills requirements for any affiliate accreditation agency, if applicable
- Provides for the timely processing and release of unaccompanied alien children
Care providers are required to evaluate their program’s strengths and weaknesses based on the following performance indicators:
- Number/type of grievances filed by unaccompanied alien children and staff
- Adverse state and local licensing citations
- Allegations and findings of staff misconduct
- On-site accidents
- The use of restraints
- Timeliness of service delivery and discharges for unaccompanied alien children
- Activities related to corrective action plans, if applicable
ORR funded care providers submit quarterly and annual performance and financial status reports, and comply with other measures to ensure program integrity and accountability.
If a care provider submits a report that requires revising, the provider must submit a revised report by the indicated due date. Failure to do so may result in immediate issuance of corrective action or other enforcement action.
5.6.1 Program Reporting Requirements5
|Type of Report||Reporting Requirements||Time Frame|
|Performance Progress Reporting||In accordance with the terms of the grant or contract. SS-PPR ACF Performance Progress Report (PPR)||Quarterly basis, starting October 1, to the ACF Office of Grants Management and the ORR PO|
|Financial Reporting||SF-425 Federal Financial Report (FFR), which reflects the cumulative actual Federal funds, unliquidated obligations incurred and the unobligated balance of Federal funds. (NOTE: the FFR represents a claim to the Federal government and filing a false claim may result in civil or criminal penalties.) Supporting documentation to information in an SF-425 may be requested.||Within 30 days after the end of each quarter to the ACF Office of Grants Management and the ORR PO. A revision is required if any discrepancies are discovered in the SF-425.|
|Program Reports||Additional programmatic or statistical information upon request from ORR (may be one time request or ongoing).||As specified by ORR. If clarification is needed regarding a request, care providers must seek clarification in a timely manner.|
Care providers must maintain comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date case files as well as electronic records on unaccompanied alien children that are kept confidential and secure at all times and must be accessible to ORR upon request. (Electronic records include those on the care provider’s network drive as well as those on the ORR UAC Portal.) Care providers must have written policies and procedures for organizing and maintaining the content of active and closed case files that incorporate State licensing requirements and/or accrediting agency requirements, and ORR policies and procedures.
To ensure accurate recordkeeping and the provision of quality care to children, care providers must create an individual case file for each child or youth in its care which includes the child’s name, alien number, date of services, and Federal fiscal year. The file documents all services provided, information about the child or youth’s progress, barrier’s to the child’s progress, and the outcome of the case.
Each unaccompanied alien child’s case file must, minimally, include the following:
- Name and Alien Number
- Birth certificate
- Initial Intakes Assessment
- Placement Authorization form
- Inventory of property and cash (signed by UAC)
- List of clothing and supplies distributed to UAC
- Notice of Placement in a Restrictive Setting (If applicable)
- Acknowledgment by the unaccompanied alien child that he or she has received the Orientation in his or her language regarding program rules and policies; notification regarding self-disclosures made while in ORR custody; grievance procedures; information on boundaries; abuse and neglect; and, emergency and evacuation procedures
- Acknowledgment by the unaccompanied alien child that he or she has received information regarding the local and/or national service providers and organizations (local child advocacy centers, rape crisis centers, immigrant victim service providers, and/or other community service providers to provide services to victims of sexual abuse and sexual harassment that occurred at the care provider facility) available to assist UAC.
- Acknowledgment of receiving Legal Resource Guide at admission and discharge
- G-28 (if applicable)
- Executive Office of Immigration Review (i.e., immigration court) documents, including those from Flores bond hearings
- Court Documents/Criminal History Records (if applicable)
- Authorization for Release of Records (if applicable)
- Authorization for Medical, Dental, and Mental Health Care
- Documentation of Initial Medical Exam
- Copies of Referrals for Medical Services
- Medical and Mental Health Records (including over-the-counter medications), diagnosis, and documentation of communicable diseases
- Immunization Records
- Prescriptions (including prescription logs)
- Record of Dental Exam(s)
- TB Screening results
- Records of office visits/ER visits/Hospital, surgery
- Progress notes related to medical or mental health services (if applicable)
- Diagnosis list
- UAC Assessments
- UAC Case Review and updates
- Sponsor Addendum(s) (If Applicable)
- Individual Service Plan (ISP) and updates
- Summary of Educational Assessments
- Individualized Education Program (IEP), if applicable.
- Education Plan (UAC class placement, curriculum/course descriptions, and Records (academic reports, progress notes))
Case Management Records
- Case Worker Progress Notes
- Recreation/Activity log
- Telephone Log
- Religious Services Log
- Stipend log (if stipends are mandated by State licensing)
- 30 Day Restrictive Placement Case Review summaries/notes (If applicable)
- Progress notes from individual counseling
- Group counseling notes or records
- Significant Incident Reports
- Documentation of the facility’s Internal Incidents or reports
- Grievances/Grievance Reports
- Family Reunification Packet
- Verification of Release form
- Transfer Request and Tracking Form
- For transfers only, notice of transfer to ICE Chief Counsel (Change of Address/Change of Venue information)
- Log/ checklist including all documents provided to the UAC at discharge
- Log of Property Returned/ disbursed at Discharge
- Discharge checklist for medical records
- Copy of Order of Removal (If applicable)
- (See also Legal Information above)
- Copy of the Trafficking Eligibility Letter, if applicable
In preparing and managing case files and documentation, the care provider must ensure compliance with all requirements imposed by Federal statutes concerning the collection and maintenance of data that includes personal identifying information.
Care providers must ensure that all records are maintained and protected so that confidential information and data are secure and not accessed, used, or disclosed to unauthorized parties or improperly altered. There must be established administrative and physical controls to prevent unauthorized access to both electronic and paper records. The care provider’s policies and procedures must also address preventing the physical damage or destruction of records. For sensitive unaccompanied alien child’s information pertaining to sexual abuse or clinical records, care providers must implement appropriate controls on the dissemination of such information in order to ensure that sensitive information is not exploited to the unaccompanied alien child’s detriment by staff or other children or youth.
Care Providers are also responsible for the timely entry of all required information into the ORR database. For specific timeframes related to assessment of unaccompanied alien children and potential sponsors, reporting, and release see:
Section 2.2.3 The Application for Release
Section 3.3.1 UAC Assessment and Case Review
Section 3.4.2 Initial Medical Exam
Section 3.4.5 Responding to Medical Emergencies
Section 4.8.1 Assessment for Risk
Section 2.8.2 Transfer of Physical Custody
Section 2.8.3 Closing the Case File
Care providers must provide timely and unrestricted access of all files to ORR or an individual or entity that ORR designates to have access.
Care providers must establish an internal file review system to periodically (once per quarter, at the minimum) review individual case files for completeness and accuracy.
ORR will determine prior to the end of the grant or contract with the care provider how the care provider will handle the retention or disposition of case files and program information created during the period of the agreement. Case files must be stored for the period specified in State licensing standards or its accrediting agency or three years (five for records kept in the UAC Portal) from the date the unaccompanied alien child was released, whichever is longer. (Cases involving litigation must be maintained until the case is resolved.)
Complete closed case files may be scanned and saved electronically, if State licensing regulations permit. The care provider must state in its internal policies and procedures the length of time the care provider will retain records in compliance with ORR requirements, State licensing regulations, and/or the accrediting agency requirements.
Once the term for records retention matures, the care provider must inform ORR and seek guidance on how to dispose of or transfer the records. Care providers may never destroy, keep, or transfer records without prior authorization from ORR.
Active and closed case files must be maintained in a locked file cabinet when not in use. At the minimum, care providers must ensure:
- Records, both paper or electronic, are protected from public access
- The area where paper records or electronic storage equipment is stored is supervised and/or securely locked during business hours to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing the records
- Records are inaccessible to unauthorized persons
- Records are not shared with unauthorized persons or under unauthorized circumstances in either oral or written form
- Safeguards are in place to prevent the misuse of documents
- All care provider sub-contractors, consultants, and outside parties are prohibited from using or disclosing information regarding the program for any purpose other than those detailed in the governing contract or agreement
- Sub-contractors or consultants return all ORR documents or destroy non-ORR documents at the completion of the contract
- ORR consent is obtained prior to destroying any documentation (disposable documents must be properly disposed of by shredding or by hiring a reputable company to take care of proper disposal)
ORR does not charge any fee to prospective or approved sponsors as a condition of release of an unaccompanied alien child. Any demand for payment of fees is not authorized by ORR and should not be paid.
Prospective sponsors should immediately report any suspicious calls or requests for payment to the care provider facility, ORR directly, or the ORR National Call Center Help Line at 1 (800) 203-7001.
Care providers notify all potential sponsors that ORR, its care providers, volunteer agencies, and grantees/contractors do not collect or require fees for any services related to the release of unaccompanied alien children from HHS custody.6
In order to detect potential fraud schemes, ORR also asks all approved sponsors at the time of a child’s release if they have been approached by anyone asking for money at any point in the release process.
The FBI recommends that all members of the public should exercise caution and adhere to the following guidelines before making a payment or donation of any kind:
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials and asking for payments or donations door-to-door, via phone, mail, e-mail, or social networking sites.
- Be skeptical of individuals requesting payment or contributions by courier or wire, or those who request your bank account or credit card number.
- Verify the legitimacy of the government agency or non-profit organization by utilizing various Internet-based resources which may confirm the correct phone number, e-mail, and/or the group’s existence and its non-profit status rather than following a link to an e-mailed site.
- Call the official telephone number of the government agency seeking money to ensure the request for payment is legitimate.
- Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails. Do not click links contained within those messages.
- Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of intended recipients in attached files which may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than having others make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who seeks payment or solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
See www.fbi.gov/sanantonio/press-releases/2014/new-fraud-schemes-targetin... Visit disclaimer page for the Spanish translation of this warning.
ORR also requests that sponsors:
- Report any suspicious calls or contact to the care provider facility and ORR directly.
- Call the ORR National Call Center Help Line at 1 (800) 203-7001. Sponsors may call the help line to inform ORR if a person defrauds or attempts to defraud them of money.
If a care provider determines that a sponsor or prospective sponsor has been the target of a fraud attempt, the care provider must report the incident to ORR through a Significant Incident Report (SIR) and to local law enforcement.
ORR reviews the information in the SIR and reports all fraud schemes, whether attempted or successfully perpetrated, to HHS/Office of the Inspector General (OIG). ORR and the care provider cooperate fully with the HHS/OIG investigation.
If the fraud scheme involves care provider staff, ORR instructs the care provider to contact local law enforcement and to follow their local licensing guidelines regarding reports of inappropriate employee behavior and to inform their local licensing agency that the case was referred to HHS/OIG and local law enforcement. A care provider facility must take disciplinary action including termination of any staff for criminal behavior, including fraud. ORR issues corrective action findings and requires the care provider to take appropriate action. See Section 5.5.2 Follow Up and Corrective Actions.
ORR is committed to protecting the unaccompanied alien children in its custody, and therefore, requires all care providers to report incidents affecting a child’s health, well-being and safety. Care providers must report on a wide range of incidents from, for example, verbal threats by one youth against another youth to physical altercations or allegations of sexual abuse; all of these incidents are referred to as “significant incidents.”
ORR requires care providers to report and document all significant incidents in accordance with mandatory reporting laws, State licensing requirements, Federal laws and regulations, and ORR policies and procedures. Care providers must use the official ORR Significant Incident Report (SIR) for the timely reporting and documenting of significant incidents. Care providers must ensure that SIRs include sufficient detail regarding the incident. In some cases, an updated report, called an SIR Addendum, may be required to provide additional information obtained after the initial report. An SIR must be filed for each child involved in an incident, and multiple SIR Addendums may be required to provide all updated and additional information.
Depending on the incident, care providers may be required to notify outside entities, such as law enforcement, State licensing, and child welfare authorities. Some SIRs also require notification to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). SIRs cannot be provided to any outside entity or individual without prior permission from ORR. In some cases, a significant incident rises to the level of an emergency, and, as described below, requires immediate notification by phone to ORR in addition to the timely completion of an SIR.
Emergency incidents include:
- Death of a child, staff, or other person in a care provider facility
- Situations in which the lives of children or staff are in immediate danger (e.g., active shooter, earthquake or other natural disaster, medical emergency requiring immediate hospitalization)
- Unauthorized absence of a child from a care provider
Care providers must immediately report emergencies, as appropriate, to 9-1-1, local law enforcement, and Child Protective Services (CPS). Care provider facilities also must immediately report emergencies to the ORR Intakes Hotline at (202) 401-5709, and submit to ORR an SIR as outlined at Section 5.8.2.
Care providers and ORR must report the death of an unaccompanied alien child as described in Section 3.3.167ORR will notify the DHS/ICE Field Office Juvenile Coordinator (FOJC), by telephone.
ORR notifies appropriate Congressional officials of a UAC’s death through the HHS/Assistant Secretary for Legislation and the HHS/Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources.
As noted above, significant incidents may range in severity from a verbal argument between two children to a sexual assault. The goal of the SIR process is to ensure that serious issues are immediately elevated to ORR and that all incidents are resolved quickly to protect children in ORR care.
Significant incidents include, but are not limited to:
- Abuse or neglect in ORR care, including sexual abuse
- Past abuse and neglect
- Behavioral incidents that threaten safety, such as physical aggression, assaults, or suicide attempts
- Incidents involving law enforcement
- Pregnancy and pregnancy-related issues
- Safety measures, such as the use of restraints
- Criminal history
- Contact or threats to a child while in ORR care from smuggling syndicates, organized crime or other criminal actors
- Potential fraud schemes
- Any type of non-emergency incident that endangers the safety and well-being of the minor
Significant incidents that are “Incidents of Violence”: Care providers must report incidents of violence, perpetrated by a minor on another minor or on a staff member, as “physical aggression” on a SIR. Violence includes inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily injury or harm. Violence also includes, in the instance of a minor perpetrating violence on a staff member, penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person, however slight, by a hand, finger, object, or other instrument.
Care providers must submit a completed SIR to ORR within 4 hours of the significant incident (or within 4 hours of the care provider becoming aware of the incident) and maintain a copy in the child’s case file. The SIR must be sent to:
- Project Officer
- Federal Field Specialist
- SIR Hotline Mailbox
- Case Coordinator
- Contract Field Specialist
- Medical Coordinator (Only if it is a medical incident)
Care providers also must report appropriate significant incidents to CPS, the State licensing agency, and/or local law enforcement in accordance with mandatory reporting laws, State licensing requirements, Federal laws and regulations, and ORR policies and procedures.
ORR has a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and inappropriate sexual behavior at all care provider facilities and makes every effort to prevent, detect, and respond to such conduct. For detailed information on reporting allegations of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and inappropriate sexual behavior, see Section 4.10.
If an unaccompanied alien child makes an allegation of abuse, other than sexual abuse, that occurred while he or she was in the custody of DHS, care providers must report the incident to DHS by emailing a copy of the SIR to the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) no later than 4 hours after learning of the allegation.
If an unaccompanied alien child makes an allegation of sexual abuse that occurred while he or she was in DHS custody, care providers must report the allegation according to State mandatory reporting laws and to ORR no later than four hours after learning of the allegation by emailing a copy of the SIR. ORR reports the allegation to the appropriate components of DHS.
In addition to submitting a SIR to ORR, care providers must report some significant incidents to DHS. The following chart outlines care provider reporting requirements for significant incidents that must be reported to DHS.
QUICK REFERENCE CHART: Care Provider Reporting Requirements for Significant Incidents to DHS
NOTE: The chart is intended as a quick reference guide and does not cover every type of reportable incident.
|TYPE OF INCIDENT||CARE PROVIDER REPORTING REQUIREMENTS|
|Incidents that Occurred in ORR Care|
|Incidents of Violence by a Child (see 5.8.2)||
|Incidents that Did Not Occur in ORR Care|
|Physical Abuse that Occurred in DHS Custody||
|Sexual Abuse that Occurred in DHS Custody||See the quick reference guide in Section 4.10.2|
FFS are required to report certain significant incidents to DHS. Care providers also have reporting requirements related to these incidents, but do not report these incidents to DHS. The following chart outlines FFS reporting requirements for significant incidents that must be reported to DHS.
QUICK REFERENCE CHART: FFS Reporting Requirements for Significant Incidents to DHS
NOTE: The chart is intended as a quick reference guide and does not cover every type of reportable incident.
|TYPE OF INCIDENT||FFS REPORTING REQUIREMENTS|
|Alleged or Suspected Fraud||
|Human Smuggling, Drug Trafficking, and Weapons Trafficking||
Death of a UAC (See 3.3.16)
If a child or youth reports past abuse that occurred in his or her home country or on the way to the United States, care providers must submit an SIR pursuant to Section 5.8.2 and also follow State licensing requirements to report the allegations of abuse.
All allegations of abuse that occurred within the United States (but not when the child was in the custody of the Federal government) must be reported to the care provider’s State licensing agency, CPS, and to local law enforcement in accordance with State licensing requirements.
Care providers must create an Addendum to an existing SIR when information in the original SIR was incorrect or incomplete, or new or more detailed information has become available since the care provider submitted the original SIR. Examples of new information include but are not limited to: a discussion with the sponsor about the incident, media inquiries about the incident, and receipt of official reports from State or local government agencies. Care providers must submit Addendums to the individuals on the notification list for SIRs at Section 5.8.2 within 24 hours of learning of the incorrect, incomplete, or new information.
Care providers must notify, as appropriate, attorneys of record, legal service providers, child advocates, parents/legal guardians, and sponsors of any type of abuse and neglect, regardless of where it occurred, in accordance with Section 4.10.4 and Figures 4.10.1, 4.10.2, and 4.10.3. Care providers must also notify, as appropriate, the parties listed above of unauthorized absences. For any minor that is hospitalized or requires a serious medical service, care providers must notify the minor’s child advocate, parent or legal guardian and sponsor, in accordance with Section 4.10.4 and Figure 4.10.2. Care providers must document notifications made.
ORR elevates emergencies and serious incidents within its leadership structure to ensure children receive care and protection, and facilities and ORR field staff get support in handling the most difficult and sensitive situations.
In the following cases, ORR staff members receiving the report shall immediately elevate the case to the Senior Federal Field Specialist Supervisor, who in turn elevates the case simultaneously to the Director of the Division of Children’s Services, the ORR Deputy Director – Children’s Services, and the ORR Director. In cases of sexual abuse and harassment, the Senior Federal Field Specialist Supervisor also elevates the case to the ORR Prevention of Sexual Abuse Coordinator.
- Death of a child, staff, or other person in a care provider facility
- Situations in which the lives of children or staff are in immediate danger (e.g., shooting/terrorist attack, earthquake or other natural disaster, medical emergency requiring immediate hospitalization)
- Unauthorized absence of a minor from a care provider
- Any situation which is reasonably likely to require ORR leadership oversight or escalation to ACF and/or HHS leadership
In order to better protect our communities, and in response to requests for such information, when releasing a UAC from secure or staff secure care, ORR notifies local law enforcement in an unaccompanied alien child’s community. In doing so, ORR provides the name and other identifying information of the UAC, taking care to safeguard personal information. ORR in its discretion may notify local law enforcement when releasing unaccompanied alien children from any level of care if ORR identifies or a community makes ORR aware of special circumstances that would make such a notification advisable.
2.At this time the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are not mandatory notification countries. Mexico is not a mandatory notification country, but the U.S. does have a bilateral agreement that confers similar protocols for minors, therefore Mexican consulate officials will be given access to UAC under similar arrangements as a mandatory notification country.
4. If there has been a court ordered termination of parental rights, a fear that the child is a victim of abuse or trafficking, or that contacting the parent or legal guardian would place the UAC in danger, the care provider will contact the consulate without the parent/legal guardian’s permission (unless the child is claiming credible fear or asylum). If the care provider is unsure, they should immediately elevate their concerns to the ORR/FFS assigned to the care provider.
5. For report templates, see www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/grants_resources.html#reporting
6. Sponsors may be required to pay for the transport of a UAC (and the travel of any escorts). See Section 2.82, Transfer of Physical Custody [www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/children-entering-the-united-st...]
7. Please see 3.3.16 Notification and Reporting of the Death of an unaccompanied alien child for more information on how to report the death of an unaccompanied alien child.