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Federal request for Nebraska assistance sought safety for migrant children
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Federal request for Nebraska assistance sought safety for migrant children

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Ricketts press conference 2.26

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks at a news conference Feb. 26 about the state's coronavirus vaccination efforts.

The Biden administration request for Nebraska's assistance in helping house displaced migrant children who have crossed the southern border contains an offer for federal funding for providers of licensed residential, group or foster care services for children.

"As I'm sure you are aware, there is an increased need for safe, state-licensed beds for unaccompanied children (for) temporary care," Christie Appelhanz, regional U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administrator, wrote in an email to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services on March 25.

The Appelhanz letter, obtained Wednesday by the Journal Star, said the federal government is seeking shelter and/or transitional foster care services to help care for the immigrant children.

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Eligible applicants include county and city governments, Native tribal organizations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations with providers required to be licensed by the state "as well as having a state license for operating the proposed facility."

No cost-sharing would be required.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said on Tuesday that Nebraska would not participate in the program, stating that "we are reserving our resources for serving our kids."

"I do not want our kids harmed as the result of President Biden's bad policies," the governor said.

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Asked if residential, group or foster care services providers in the state may be seeking to participate, Taylor Gage, the governor's spokesman, said: "We have not received notice of private organizations working with the federal government in regards to this matter."

Earlier, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds rejected the federal request to seek housing services for the migrant children, suggesting that the need to find shelter for the flood of children at the Mexican border "is the president's problem."

Both Ricketts and Reynolds are Republicans who have been critical of the Democratic president's policies.

The letter from Appelhanz was sent to state officials in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa.    

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSdon


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