Whistleblower Requests Extension on Rule Making for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act as Growing Crisis of Unaccompanied Minors Surge

Brown, Evelynn 1x1.25 (2)This morning I sent the below email to the Department of Health and Human Services requesting an extension of time for proposed rule making changes to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) because of the growing crisis of unaccompanied youth.

Good Morning Mr. Holloway and Mr. Greenberg:

This email is of an urgent nature.
First, the comment period for proposed changes and rule making on to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) ends tomorrow, June 13, 2014. http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=ACF_FRDOC_0001-0046
Second, we intend to make a submission which will include a legal requirement that any grantee receiving federal funding must provide proof of state licensing at the application stage to show they already are approved to care for minors and young adults.  We also intend to submit that fingerprinting and background checks are required be performed on all employees and volunteers who perform any type of service where they come into contact with minors and young adults.  These are 2 points are not negotiable since all recipients of federal funding must adhere to all federal and state laws pursuant to the Act.  A more formal document will be submitted describing recommendations.
Third, given the recent news coverage of the overwhelming number of unaccompanied children entering the United States, that will be directly affected by successful shelter programs which impact the runaway and homeless law, we believe the time for commenting should be extended for a minimum of 30 days and should be announced widely so that local, state and global children’s rights advocates may have time to weigh in on how to improve the RHY Act, the requirements for recipients of federal funding and required performance standards of all grantees.
Part of the justification to extend the comment period is because many grantees receive funding from Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor (DOL), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).  An extension of time to comment would better serve the children served grantees and contractors who provide services and institute more effective oversight of tax payer funds.
Further, another primary reasons the comment period should be extended is because HHS is responsible for both runaway and homeless youth under Family Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), in addition to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).  http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/programs/urm
This news story describes the widespread crisis of unaccompanied children entering the country.
My background includes having worked for both ORR, Division of Grants Policy and FYSB at HHS.  The whistleblowing I did while at HHS included inter alia, the failures of the RHY Programs to protect children from grantee fraud, lack of state licensing, lack of fingerprinting/background checks and lack of coordination with the missing children networks and unaccompanied minors programs is well documented which was publicized in the attached 2008 new article.
Coordinated efforts in all programs to protect minor children is vital whether the minors or young adults are American citizens or citizens of other countries because both are extremely vulnerable, subject to human trafficking.
The proposed rule making by HHS states geographic areas would not receive any special consideration for funding.  I believe this point did not take into consideration the current crisis of unaccompanied children.
Under Priority of Awards-HHS proposes the below:
In discussing priorities, we do not specifically address geographic area(s) to be served. That will typically be addressed in funding opportunity announcements and may, depending on the type of grant, be national. We assume that either new applicants or existing grantees can compete for awards in the same geographic area. For example, a grantee already serving one city could apply for a grant to serve an additional city. As discussed later in this preamble in the performance standards section, we also do not propose to give specific numeric weights to failures to meet particular standards, whether performance standards or others. This allows for funding decisions that take into account unique local circumstances that favor or impede high performance, and for evidence that an applicant is both able and willing to correct a deficiency. This also allows for increases or decreases in grant awards to reward or penalize grantees whose performance is particularly high or modestly weak, without making the award decision “all or nothing.” Finally, it allows us to take into account availability of funds and other factors such as State allotment requirements. We note that the $200,000 priority award level on grant awards is unrelated to the statutory requirement that each State has an allotment of not less than $200,000. There may be, and usually are, multiple awards in each State. The statutory requirement simply means that the total of such awards in any State be at least $200,000 (and $70,000 for territories).

We request comments on these proposed priorities and on ways to improve or refine them.”

Considering many states are directly impacted by the growing crisis of homeless children and youth, I am making an impassioned plea on their behalf that HHS extend the comment period on rule making because the unaccompanied youth crisis was not anticipated when recommending statutory changes to the Code of Federal Regulations and the RHY Act.
Finally, several members of Congress have been copied in on this correspondence to inform their offices of this urgent request in addition to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). This urgent request will also be posted on our website and through social media.
Please respond quickly since time is of the essence.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Kindest regards,
Evelynn Brown, J.D., LL.M
Chief Executive Officer
The Brown Center for Public Policy
Ethics in Business Institute
A 501(c)3 nonprofit, public benefit corporation.
(202) 350-0848

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On Mon, May 12, 2014 at 8:06 AM,

Good Morning Mr. Holloway:
Thank you for the reply.
I wish you the best of luck in ensuing runaway and homeless youth are protected from unsafe conditions and individuals with criminal histories and receive the services they need from qualified grantees who adhere to State and Federal law.
Again, many thanks.
Evelynn Brown, J.D., LL.M
Chief Executive Officer
Brown Center for Public Policy
A 501(c)3 nonprofit, public benefit corporation

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