Kansas

Topeka nonprofit has been caring for nine migrant children separated from parents

An immigration activist rally organized by Cosecha KC was held Sunday at the J.C. Nichols Fountain on the Country Club Plaza. The event, sparked by the controversy over family separations, addressed issues facing immigrants.
An immigration activist rally organized by Cosecha KC was held Sunday at the J.C. Nichols Fountain on the Country Club Plaza. The event, sparked by the controversy over family separations, addressed issues facing immigrants. The Kansas City Star

Later this week, the head of Kansas' child welfare agency will meet with a Topeka nonprofit to check on the well-being of nearly four dozen migrant children staying there.

Of the 44 children at The Villages facility as of Friday, nine kids were separated from their parents at the border and 35 are considered unaccompanied minors.

In a release Monday afternoon, the Kansas Department for Children and Families provided those additional details from last week's inspection of The Villages conducted by a staff member of the child welfare agency. DCF licenses the nonprofit, which has a contract with the federal government to house youth.

During the inspection, which Gov. Jeff Colyer requested, The Villages assured DCF that there were plans in place to meet the educational, mental health and physical health needs of the children, Monday's release stated.

"We have been assured legal matters are being addressed," DCF spokeswoman Taylor Forrest said. "And plans are in the works to get the youth back with family, or appropriate sponsors, as soon as possible."

The DCF staff member conducting the inspection spent about an hour visiting all four group homes, the office and the facility's premises. The staffer also interacted with the children, according to DCF.

Kansas lawmakers first learned that migrant children separated from their parents at the border were staying in Kansas through an editorial last week in The Star. The separation was part of President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" crackdown on illegal immigration that includes the prosecution of all adults who are apprehended crossing the border illegally.

It has been reported that more than 2,300 children have been separated from their families at the Mexico-U.S. border since early May, causing an increased need for government-provided care. Of that total, 500 have been reunited with their families.

In fiscal year 2017, The Villages received $2.6 million in funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement through its Unaccompanied Alien Children Program. And this fiscal year it has already received $3.2 million.

Colyer said he's happy to see Trump address the separation of children from their parents.

"Our hope and expectation is that these children will be reunited with their families in the near future,” the governor said.

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