Gov. Henry McMaster, R-S.C., has issued an executive order designed to prevent President Joe Biden from housing unaccompanied migrant children in the state’s care facilities and foster homes, the Washington Examiner reports.
"The heartbreaking humanitarian crisis on our border was created by the Biden administration," McMaster said in a tweet on Monday. "Sending unaccompanied migrant children from the border to states like South Carolina only makes the problem worse. My Executive Order ensures that South Carolina’s most vulnerable children come first and the valuable services and care they receive are not disrupted."
Michael Leach, director of the Department of Social Services, told the governor in a letter dated April 8, 2021 that the federal Administration of Children and Families had contacted the department to ask about housing unaccompanied children in the state.
"At this time, DSS is aware of six private providers who have indicated interest and have capacity for placements," the letter said. "It is our understanding that ACF is offering these provider businesses very favorable terms for placement assistance.
"ACF informed DSS that the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and ACF would be responsible for coordinating placement support and case management for children who may be placed with providers in SC, so DSS would not be involved unless an incident of abuse or neglect occurs within the facility. The anticipated duration of placement is 35 days, but could be longer if diligent efforts to locate relatives are prolonged or unsuccessful.”
In a letter to Leach the next day, McMaster wrote that an inquiry from the ACF was "extremely concerning," noting that "the department's child welfare resources were stretched thin prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are just now learning of the mental and physical damage done to our State’s children by virus-related isolation, disruption, and detachment."
He added, "South Carolina’s children must always be given first priority for placement into foster care and the State’s strained resources must be directed to addressing the needs of its children. Allowing the federal government to place an unlimited number of unaccompanied migrant children into our state’s child welfare system for an unspecified length of time is an unacceptable proposition. We’ve been down this road with the federal government before and the state usually ends up 'on the hook.'"
The state Department of Social Services responded to the governor in a letter that said: "Put simply, we have not yet seen adequate assurances from the federal government that these risks will be accounted for and solutions adequately resourced prior to the placement of unaccompanied migrant children in South Carolina. We share your concern and will work with your office as you deem appropriate to address this emerging issue."
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