DENVER – The City and County of Denver and Denver Human Services today submitted a three-year competitive federal grant application to provide – if asked by the federal government – temporary shelter care and support services to unaccompanied children coming to the United States from Central America. Denver is seeking the grant in response to the refugee crisis that is impacting thousands of children on the southern border of the United States.
“We are faced with a humanitarian crisis. This city has never shied away from doing what’s right, and this is the right thing to do,” Mayor Hancock said. “Denver is a welcoming, compassionate city, and we will not turn a blind eye to children in need – no matter where they come from – if called upon to help.”
If awarded the grant, the Denver Human Services Division of Child Welfare, in partnership with Denver Health and Lutheran Family Services, would work through the Family Crisis Center to provide temporary shelter care for up to 60 unaccompanied children pursuant to stringent grant requirements. Successful applicants will be notified with amount of funds granted, effective date and budget period.
“Denver has a strong refugee resettlement network that has been placing refugees from areas of international conflict since 1980,” said Executive Director of Human Services Penny May. “Denver is equipped to help in the capacity we can, and we are ready and willing to do so.”
The majority of unaccompanied children served through this grant are expected to remain in the custody of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement/Division of Children’s Services between 30-35 days, but some may have a longer or shorter length of stay. The grant requires that services provided include case management, education, family reunification and release, group and individual counseling, medical and recreational activities.
The federal money will ease the financial burden to Denver taxpayers, ensuring that no city resources are used to administer this federal program. In seeking the grant, the city is acting in a fiscally responsible manner by applying for federal resources to help provide those connecting services for kids in the case that Denver is called to act by the federal government.
Several local and state community, civil and elected leaders have come together in support of Denver’s efforts to secure the grant:
"I am proud that Denver is stepping forward and helping to deal with the refugee children along our southern border. Denver's city agencies and nonprofits have the capability to help keep these kids safe as they go through the legal process here. While we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform to deal with this problem fully, communities in Denver are doing their part to help right now." – Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.
“I am an at-large member of Denver City Council and proud of our community’s response to this critical issue. I have received encouragement from the faith community and many Denver residents, and this gives me certainty that Denver is doing the right thing. This crisis shows how Denver will rally and partner with important community institutions like Denver Health, Lutheran Family Services and many more.” – Denver City Councilmember Deborah Ortega
“As an at-large member of Denver’s City Council, I am confident that the city of Denver’s facilities are well suited to provide short-term housing. Furthermore, the staff at DHS has sufficient background and expertise to effectively work with and meet the needs of these children. I stand ready as a partner with the federal government to respond to this crisis. The City and County of Denver is ready, willing and able to help with this project.” – Denver City Councilmember Robin Kniech
“We should welcome these innocent children into our city to live as children, not political prisoners. Childhood is precious regardless of race or national origin, and we as a society should protect it from both violence and political rhetoric. I believe as a compassionate city, protecting these unaccompanied minors by housing them while they await placement is the moral and right thing to do.” – Denver City Councilmember Paul López
“Many of these children have been victims of violence and are simply seeking safety and reunification with their families in the U.S. For that reason, I support Denver Department of Human Services’ request to the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement for funding. Among other things, the project will deliver a safe residential environment with quality programs such as education, and access to health care and legal services.” – Denver City Councilmember Susan Shepherd
“These children are looking for safety from dangerous situations, and I believe Denver can play a role in their protection and well-being. We are a thriving city that I believe has the compassion and capacity to support these children during their time of need, and as a citizen and elected representative of Denver, I am proud that we as a city are able to participate in this type of support effort.” – Denver City Councilmember Judy Montero
“This is a complex issue that won’t be solved overnight, but we must show compassion to the children who are already here as we work to find solutions. It’s good to see Denver move forward in a fiscally responsible manner by pursuing this grant rather than expending city resources to address the needs of these children should they come to the city.” – Dan Ritchie, Chairman and CEO, Denver Center for the Performing Arts
“There are those who would like to paint this humanitarian issue as a divisive one. To them, I say it is divisive, because it divides love from hate. These are children. And they need our love and compassion.” – Rudy Gonzales, Executive Director, Servicios de la Raza
“We at the Colorado Council of Churches believe that providing housing to immigrant children who arrive in this country alone is the morally just thing to do, and we will advocate for and support legislation and policy that approaches immigration issues with compassion and respect toward all people and sensitivity toward our deepest values. Accordingly, the CCC supports Denver Human Services’ efforts to make this happen in Denver.” – Adrian Miller, Executive Director, Colorado Council of Churches