More than half of the allegations of sexual abuse of unaccompanied migrant minors by adult staffoccurred in shelters run by just three contractors — nonprofits that received federal grants totaling more than $2.5 billion over the past four years, according to USAspending.gov.
By the numbers: The federal government has received as many as 10 separate reports of alleged sexual abuse by staff at multiple migrant child shelters over the past four years, totaling 178 allegations against adult staff members, according to HHS documents given to Axios.
- These staffers work at shelters for migrant children, which are operated by nonprofits and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS says it’s responsible for “overseeing the infrastructure and personnel of [Office of Refugee Resettlement]-funded care provider facilities” and “ensuring compliance with ORR national care standards.”
- HHS declined to comment for this story.
Southwest Keys Programs (SWK) is the largest of the nonprofit contractors running shelters for migrant children. It has received $1.5 billion from government contracts over the past four years, according to USAspending.gov. During that time, HHS data showed there were 65 allegations of sexual abuse by staff at their shelters.
- One allegation involved a youth care worker twice offering a minor a pair of shoes in exchange for fondling the minor’s genitals. The case was reported to the Justice Department, but not investigated.
- “Any mistreatment of a child is unacceptable and violates the mission that guides our organization,” Neil Nowlin, a spokesperson for SWK, told Axios. “If the authorities determine a report is credible and launch a formal investigation, we participate fully in that process.”
- The company is also currently under investigation by the Justice Department for misuse of government funds, the New York Times reported.
- SWK recently shut down two shelters in Arizona and was forced to pay a $73,000 settlement to the state health department that had been seeking to revoke the company’s licenses for not providing proof that its workers had received required background checks. This came after reports that three children were physically abused by staff in one of the shelters, according to Arizona Central.…