For Immediate Release
Contact: David Card
Washington, DC – The nationwide network of disability rights agencies known as the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System have begun independent monitoring of facilities holding children who were separated from their families while crossing the United States border.
News reports have indicated some children may be experiencing abuse and neglect, subjected to the inappropriate use psychotropic drugs, and/or unnecessary restraint and seclusion. Children who have been removed from their parents’ care are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
The P&A Systems were created by Congress and have the authority to provide legal representation and other advocacy services to all people with disabilities. The Systems’ unique access authority allows the nationwide network of agencies to monitor and investigate in any facility where children or adults with disabilities live, work or receive services for instances of abuse, neglect, or rights violations. This authority was affirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement in a memo issued on July 24.
P&A agencies entering facilities will prioritize the identification of children with disabilities who may require services such as medical and mental health care and special education. P&As will also prioritize the safe and legal use of psychotropic medication, to ensure that children are not drugged without parental permission and appropriate physician oversight. The agencies will also review the conditions of the facilities, and work to prevent abuse and neglect.
P&As have already visited 16 facilities with more monitoring visits planned. In the coming months the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the membership association of the P&A System, will be collecting the findings from the monitoring visits and issuing a report.
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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.