Eye on Oversight – Employee Screenings in the UAC Program


[Music] VO: In the summer of 2018, OIG conducted a series of site visits at facilities funded
by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or ORR. At that time, ORR was experiencing a surge
of children in its custody, under the Unaccompanied Alien Children Program. A recent OIG review focused on ORR-funded
facilities’ efforts to maintain appropriate levels of qualified, screened facility employees,
including when the UAC program experiences a sudden change in the number or needs of
children. Sylvie Witten: “This report was important
because it gave broad coverage; we looked at 45 ORR-funded facilities, and we were able
to give ORR recommendations to improve its Unaccompanied Alien Children Program.” VO: OIG found that ORR-funded facilities generally
conducted required background checks. However, some facilities did not have evidence
of the required FBI fingerprint or Child Protective Services check results, and more than half
of the facilities reviewed allowed employees to begin employment before receiving the results
of the background checks. In addition, ORR granted six facilities a
waiver from conducting the CPS check for employees with direct access to children. Witten: “These background checks are important
because that’s one of the avenues that ORR takes to ensure the safety and well-being
of kids in care” VO: OIG also found that most facilities hired
mental health clinicians who met ORR education requirements; however, many facilities hired
case managers who did not. In addition, facilities had difficulty maintaining
required staffing ratios due to challenges screening, hiring, and retaining qualified
employees. According to OIG, having case managers and
mental health clinicians with large caseloads that result in the facility exceeding the
required ratio may place the children at risk of not receiving necessary case management
and clinical services. OIG made several recommendations to ORR, to
improve UAC program operations related to background checks, education requirements,
staffing ratios, and waivers of CPS checks. Witten: “The department has been very responsive
to the recommendations. In its written comments to our draft report
the department laid out corrective actions it has taken or that’s underway to correct
the deficiencies identified in the report.” [Music]

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