Bismarck  (CSi)  – The North Dakota Department of Human Services confirmed  Tuesday, that while it works to support the resettlement of refugees and other individuals who are legally authorized to enter the country, the state has not accepted unaccompanied undocumented children from the United States’ southern border.

Recent news stories had included speculation about federal plans for sheltering unaccompanied undocumented children and youth who entered the U.S. unlawfully and were detained at the southern border.

“The state has not accepted unaccompanied undocumented youth from the southern border and does not have the facilities or capacity to serve more children than the North Dakota children already being cared for in qualified residential treatment programs,” said DHS Executive Director Chris Jones.

Jones said, North Dakota was one of the first states to implement the federal Family First Prevention Services Act, which refocused the state’s child welfare system on serving children safely in their communities in family homes. Over the past eight years, North Dakota has reduced the number of licensed beds for children and youth by 212 beds by shifting services away from institutional settings toward community-based treatment and support services for children and youth.

As a result, the state currently has 76 licensed qualified residential treatment program beds to serve eligible North Dakota children and youth and has no residential child care facility beds, which were eliminated in 2019.