HHS watchdog launches probe into conditions at child detention centers

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) inspector general is launching a review of the conditions at the agency’s shelters for unaccompanied migrant children. 

The probe will only focus on safety and health concerns, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) said Wednesday.

“Specifically, this review will focus on a variety of safety- and health-related issues such as employee background screening, employees’ clinical skills and training, identification and response to incidents of harm, and facility security,” the OIG said.


The inspector general’s office said it will review the efforts of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) “to ensure the safety and health of children placed at ORR facilities, especially when the program experiences a sudden increase in the number of children placed in its care.”

The federal watchdog said it will deploy teams of evaluators, auditors, investigators and lawyers on site-visits to ORR facilities across the country.

The Trump administration has faced scrutiny in recent weeks following the separation of thousands of immigrant children from their families that have illegally crossed the southern border.

Questions have swirled as to whether HHS is capable of handling the challenge of reuniting the children with their families. The agency has not said say how long the separated children would remain in HHS-run shelters.

HHS has said “hundreds” of children have been reunited with their parents or another relative, but declined to say how many were actually in HHS custody to begin with.

The department said it is caring for 2,047 children who were separated from their parents because of the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to begin reuniting them with their parents.

President Trump signed an executive order last week that was intended to keep families together while in detention. Trump signed the order amid intense political pressure and after days of White House insistence that he would not sign such an order.

Updated: 6:12 p.m.

Tags Department of Health and Human Services Donald Trump family separation HHS Immigration Migrant detention facilities Trump administration
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