HHS: Grantees Sheltering 'Unaccompanied Alien Children' Must Provide 'Family Planning Services'

By Melanie Arter | June 10, 2014 | 3:55pm EDT

A Border Patrol agent stands on a ranch fence line with children taken into custody in South Texas brush country north of Laredo, Texas, Tuesday, June 6, 2006. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – A $350 million grant opportunity announced Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide shelter for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) states that recipients providing residential shelter to these children must provide them with “family planning services” and that residential care providers deliver services in a manner that is “sensitive” to sexual orientation and gender identity.

"Residential care providers are required to provide...family planning services," says an official description of the grant program published by HHS.

"Residential care providers are required to provide or arrange for the program required services in a mannter that is sensitive to the...sexual orientation, gender identity, and other important individual needs of each UAC [unaccompanied alien child]," says the official description.

The grant will be issued by HHS through the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The primary function of the Office of Refugee Resettlement/Division of Children’s Services (ORR/DCS) is to provide temporary shelter care and related services to unaccompanied alien children in custody.

Unaccompanied alien children (UAC) are defined as minors who have no lawful immigration status in the U.S., who have not reached the age of 18, and for whom there is no parent or legal guardian in the U.S. or no parent or legal guardian in the U.S. is available to provide care and physical custody.

While the population of unaccompanied illegal children generally consists of children ages 12 to 17 with males representing a higher percentage of the overall population, “ORR is looking for applicants who can provide services for a diverse population of UAC of all ages and genders as well as pregnant and parenting teens,” the grant said.

Unaccompanied alien children (UAC) are required to receive a complete medical examination that includes screening for infectious disease within 48 hours of admission. They also receive “appropriate immunizations,” emergency health care services, “family planning services,” other routine medical and dental care, prescription drugs, special diets, and mental health intervention as needed.

“Residential care providers are required to provide or arrange for the program required services in a manner that is sensitive to the age, culture, religion, dietary needs, native language, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other important individual needs of each UAC,” the grant said.

According to the grant description, “shelter care services begin once ORR accepts a UAC for placement and ends when the minor is released from ORR custody, turns 18 years of age, or the minor’s immigration case results in a final disposition of removal from the United States.”

Unaccompanied illegal minors are expected to stay in ORR custody for 30-35 days more or less.

As CNSNews.com reported, HHS predicted that 60,000 unaccompanied illegal immigrant children will be caught entering the U.S. this year. That’s an 815 percent increase from the 6,560 unaccompanied young illegals apprehended in 2011.

Shelter facilities usually house between 16 and 200 unaccompanied illegal children depending on state licensing requirements. Group homes usually house between six and 18 children.

“Transitional foster care is an initial placement option for UAC under 13 years of age, sibling groups with one sibling under 13 years of age, pregnant or parenting teens, or UAC with special needs,” the grant said. They are placed with state licensed foster families, go to school and still receive “most service components at the care provider site.”

“Residential care providers are required to provide proper physical care and shelter for UAC that includes but is not limited to suitable living accommodations (e.g., bed, chair, desk, storage for clothing and other personal items), culturally appropriate meals and snacks, several sets of new clothing, and personal grooming items,” the grant said.

The facilities are expected to have “designated common areas, including space for education, recreation, and case management as well as space to hold confidential services, such as health services and counseling.”

“Care providers must be licensed by an appropriate State agency to provide residential, group, or foster care services for dependent children, including a program operating group homes, foster homes, or facilities for special needs minors,” the grant said.

Residential care providers are required to hire staff with experience in child welfare, youth work, child care, or a related field, the grant said.

The majority of staff who are responsible for delivering direct care are required to be bilingual in English and the language of the majority of unaccompanied illegal minors in their care. Although Spanish is the primary language of most young illegals, access to other languages should be available when necessary, the grant said.

Children are required to have at least one hour of “large muscle activity” a day along with one hour of “structured leisure time activities.” Activities are expected to be increased to a total of three hours daily on weekends and other days when school is not in session.

Educational services are required to be provided daily on weekdays, and providers “are encouraged to partner with local school districts for the provision of educational services and/or for curriculum.”

Children are expected to receive access to religious services of their choice. They are also required to receive at least one individual counseling session per week.

The award ceiling is $100,000,000 per budget period. The award floor is $500,000 per budget period. The expected number of awards is 60. The estimated total funding is $350 million. The awards are expected to last for three 12-month budget periods or 3 years.

The deadline for submitting applications is Aug. 5, 2014.

CNSNews.com contacted ACF by e-mail for comment and asked the following questions: “The grant description says the award ceiling is $100 million with an expected number of awards specified as 60. Yet it says the total program funding is $350 million. What does that mean? Is the current grant for $100,000 million or for $350 million? Is this a new grant program or continued funding for an existing grant program?

“Under the program requirements of the grant (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/foa/files/HHS-2015-ACF-ORR-ZU-0833_0.pdf), it says residential care providers are required to provide or arrange for the program required services in a manner that is sensitive to among other things: sexual orientation and gender identity. What does that mean? How are care providers expected to do that? What are some examples of how they are expected to achieve that?” CNSNews.com asked.

“It also says residential care providers are required to provide ‘family planning services’ to unaccompanied alien children. What does that entail? Does that include providing contraception to children and/abortion or the morning-after pill?” CNSNews.com added.

ACF spokesman Kenneth Wolfe responded by e-mail saying the grant is for $350,000,000.

“The funding opportunity announcement is for cooperative agreements for residential care providers under the Unaccompanied Alien Children program. Care providers would include basic shelters, group homes, staff secure, secure and other specialized types of care,” Wolfe wrote.

CNSNews.com asked whether Wolfe would respond to the questions regarding the family planning services requirement and the requirement that providers are sensitive to the unaccompanied alien minors’ sexual orientation and gender identity.

Wolfe responded by saying he would see if “a political appointee” would be able to comment on it. Neither Wolfe nor an ACF “political appointee” responded to the questions on family planning services or sexual orientation and gender identity by press time.

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