WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
Protecting children in the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) Program is an essential and ongoing responsibility of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). By law, ORR, which is within the Department of Health and Human Services’ ACF, has custody of and must provide care for each child in the UAC Program.
To mitigate against safety risks, ORR requires care provider facilities to employ three physical security measures: (1) controlled entry and exit, (2) alarm systems, and (3) video monitoring. ORR requires facilities to use facility inspection checklists to ensure that these required physical security measures are present and working. Facilities can use inspection checklists to self-identify concerns with their physical security measures. If facilities do not regularly check that their security measures are functioning, children potentially could be exposed to safety risks.
HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
We based our review primarily on a review of documents we collected from the 45 selected facilities we visited and ORR headquarters staff. We also conducted interviews with program directors and Federal field specialists and made observations during our site visits. To determine the extent to which facilities’ inspection checklists include the physical security measures required by ORR, we analyzed the content of inspection checklists submitted from 40 of the selected facilities we visited. Our review of ORR’s oversight of facilities’ use of inspection checklists focused on how its guidance and activities related to the contents and use of the checklists.
WHAT WE FOUND
We found that 39 of the 40 facilities that provided us with their inspection checklists did not include prompts in their inspection checklists to check for one or more of the physical security measures required by ORR. Additionally, facilities that included these measures in their inspection checklists did not always describe in detail what elements of the measures to check.
ORR does not provide guidance or routine oversight on whether facilities regularly use inspection checklists to ensure that the required physical security measures are present and working. If facilities do not regularly check that their security measures are functioning, children potentially could be exposed to safety risks.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND
To ensure that facilities routinely check all required security measures, we recommend that ACF work with ORR to (1) develop and implement methods to ensure that facilities’ inspection checklists include all required physical security measures, (2) develop and implement methods to ensure that facilities regularly report inspection checklist results, and (3) conduct a review to determine whether to enhance required physical security measures.