Ariz. shel­ter in child abuse case closes

Yuma Sun - - NEWS -

PHOENIX — Staff mem­bers at a Phoenix-area shel­ter for un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­grant chil­dren phys­i­cally abused three chil­dren, lead­ing to the clo­sure of the shel­ter, fed­eral of­fi­cials said. It was the lat­est in a se­ries of in­ci­dents of al­leged abuse in­volv­ing staff mem­bers at shel­ters and chil­dren.

South­west Key’s Ha­cienda del Sol shel­ter was shut down last Fri­day, but fed­eral of­fi­cials did not re­veal the rea­son be­hind the clo­sure un­til Tues­day.

The Texas-based fed­eral con­trac­tor has fired the staffers in­volved in the Sept. 18 in­ci­dent, the U.S. De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices said in a state­ment.

The agency did not re­lease ad­di­tional de­tails about the in­ci­dent or how many staff mem­bers were in­volved.

The Mari­copa County Sher­iff’s Of­fice did not im­me­di­ately re­spond Wed­nes­day to a re­quest to lo­cate the in­ci­dent in its files. It was not im­me­di­ately clear how many staff mem­bers were in­volved, or if any face pos­si­ble crim­i­nal charges.

The Health and Hu­man Ser­vice De­part­ment’s Of­fice of Refugee Re­set­tle­ment over­sees chil­dren who crossed the border with­out their par­ents or have been sep­a­rate from their par­ents due to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pre­vi­ous zero-tol­er­ance border pol­icy.

“ORR has a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy for all forms of abuse or in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior at (mi­grant) care provider fa­cil­i­ties and acts quickly to ad­dress any al­leged vi­o­la­tions of pol­icy, in­clud­ing ini­ti­at­ing em­ployee dis­ci­plinary ac­tion, ter­mi­na­tion, or re­port­ing to law en­force­ment agen­cies and all rel­e­vant li­cens­ing bodies,” the agency said.

The chil­dren were all re­lo­cated to the com­pany’s other shel­ters within 10 days, The Ari­zona Repub­lic re­ported.

South­west Key is work­ing to re­train staff, said Jeff Eller, a South­west Key spokesman.

The clo­sure comes af­ter Ari­zona of­fi­cials moved to re­voke the li­censes for South­west Key af­ter it missed a dead­line to show that all em­ploy­ees passed back­ground checks.

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