July 16, 2018
HHS Statement on Maximizing Child Welfare and Meeting Court Orders
Health and Human Services spokesperson Evelyn Stauffer issued the following statement on maximizing child welfare and meeting all court orders:
"HHS has been working tirelessly with all relevant partners, including the court, to achieve two objectives related to the separated minors in our care: maximizing child welfare and meeting all court orders.
“The court has emphasized clear goals for the process of reunification: ensuring the safety and welfare of the children in question, confirming the parentage of the adults in question, and reunifying the parents and children as quickly as possible. HHS shares those goals. We have appreciated the opportunity to work with the court toward them, and will continue to do so.
“The department has been operating in good faith and earnestly trying to comply with court orders, including the rapidly approaching deadline for reunification. Our interpretation of the court’s order is that HHS must make a determination of parentage, fitness, and safety before reunifying families, but that HHS need not undertake the fuller process of vetting for children’s safety that HHS would ordinarily conduct in its operations.
“In the interests of transparency and cooperation, the department felt it necessary in our filings on Friday to share with the court our view that meeting the deadline would mean truncating the process we might have otherwise followed.
“Within the time the court allows, we will strive to implement the most comprehensive procedures possible to ensure child welfare. We look forward to continuing our close work with the court to accomplish the goals we share of safe, expeditious reunification."