Over the past month, there has been a lot of news around unaccompanied minors and migrant children receiving care in in Arizona.  ADHS is responsible for licensing health care institutions and child care facilities in Arizona and is committed to ensuring children are in a safe and nurturing environment. In fact, the health and safety of children in Arizona is one of our priorities, and we have been monitoring these allegations and complaints closely. The increasing number of allegations of significant events at facilities holding these children is concerning, and at Governor Ducey’s direction and in compliance with our protocols, ADHS is acting immediately to ensure the health and safety of our littlest residents and visitors.

The federal government, specifically the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awards the contracts for facilities providing care to this population.  Arizona law requires that any facility providing health care services or child care services must be licensed by ADHS, but ADHS does not monitor or enforce the federal contracts. Our license demonstrates the facility meets the state’s requirements for health and safety. To ensure our licensees follow state laws, our licensing staff can go out to inspect the facilities in two ways: annual routine inspections and investigations in response to a complaint. Complaints are often how we hear about substandard care and issues at our licensed facilities, and we work hard to investigate complaints as soon as possible.

ADHS is doing everything within our authority to address the issues we are hearing about. In response to these recent complaints, our licensing team has been going onsite to ensure the children are safe and that the facilities are complying with our licensing regulations. These investigations are usually initiated the same day we receive the complaint. Upon arrival onsite, our team’s first priority is to ensure the children are safe. After that, our team completes the rest of the investigation. Depending upon the type of complaint, this could include: checking that there is enough staff to safely monitor the children, reviewing to ensure all staff have appropriate training and valid fingerprint cards on file, ensuring the facility’s policies and plans are being followed, and confirming that appropriate authorities are notified when significant events occur. If our team encounters a situation where children are in immediate danger, they stay onsite as long as it takes to ensure that situation is rectified and the appropriate authorities are involved.

We take the health, safety and wellness of Arizonans very seriously and will continue to monitor and respond quickly to complaints. We are also working directly with the staff at these facilities to ensure that they are doing everything they can to prevent abuse from occurring, that they are hiring staff with the appropriate training and backgrounds, and are reporting to the appropriate authorities quickly when a situation arises.

We post all of the findings of our investigations online once it is complete. For information regarding recent inspections and our licensed facilities please visit azcarecheck.com. Complaints regarding substandard care at one of our licensed facilities can be submitted online.