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Press Release Published: Sep 16, 2021

Oversight Republicans Express Concern Over HHS’s Failure to Adequately Oversee Contractors Handling the Unaccompanied Child Crisis

Whistleblowers allege inhumane treatment of children, HHS’s failure to ensure contractors have prior childcare experience

WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Oversight Republicans sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra expressing concerns over massive, no-bid contracts totaling billions of dollars for the care of unaccompanied alien children. The Biden Administration is—according to whistleblowers—awarding these contracts to companies with no prior childcare experience and tasking them with caring for the surge of unaccompanied children arriving at the Southern border. 

“We write today to express our continued concern with the Department of Health and Human Services’ use of massive, no-bid contract awards to handle the ongoing unaccompanied child crisis and whether HHS is adequately supervising those contractors. In light of multiple whistleblower complaints received by the Committee alleging disturbing conditions at HHS Emergency Intake Sites (EIS) housing unaccompanied children, there are serious questions about HHS’s use of and failure to adequately oversee multiple contractors with no childcare experience,” wrote the lawmakers.

The Committee received multiple whistleblower complaints from federal employees who were working at the Fort Bliss EIS. The complaints detail unclear communication and chains of command, no formal childcare training provided by HHS, and children desperate for basic life-necessities and sanitary housing. In addition, the complaints state that multiple private contractors were awarded massive servicing contracts in a no-bid process even though they had no childcare experience, and some contract staff were on site with children prior to completing background checks.

“If these reports are true, this is unacceptable. Not only is this a gross mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, but it is inhumane treatment of children. This cannot be allowed to continue in America. HHS must do a better job of caring for these children. It is imperative that Committee Republicans understand whether HHS is adequately supervising its contractors, whether the contractors caring for children are actually qualified to do so, whether those contractors are providing the services they promised in exchange for billions of dollars in taxpayer funds, and if the allegations of neglect and poor conditions are true, then what steps are HHS and the contractors taking to remedy the conditions,” concluded the lawmakers.

To assist Committee Republicans in conducting oversight of this issue, the lawmakers are requesting all contracts and related information regarding the care of unaccompanied minors at the Fort Bliss EIS.

Read the full letter here.