The Children’s Home Society of Florida confirmed with Breitbart News on Monday that some unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border of the U.S. will be sent to local foster homes in the state next month.
“As you’re aware, this is an incredible humanitarian issue. Children’s Home Society of Florida is assisting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide safe shelter and care for children who enter the United States without their families,” spokeswoman for Children’s Home Society of Florida Heather Morgan wrote in an email statement. “In Brevard County, we will be working with local families that will serve as transitional homes for 12 children. In Broward County, we will provide temporary shelter and care for 24 children in a group-home setting.”
Florida Today recently reported federal authorities contacted the private not-for-profit social agency around two months ago to aid the federal government with providing humanitarian services for the migrant children. This would include finding short-term, transitional housing and other care. According to FT, another 45 are expected in Fort Lauderdale and may end up in Brevard County.
“We’re going to start with about 12 children,” Teresa Miles, the executive director of the Brevard division of the Children’s Home Society of Florida, told FT. “Our goal is to keep them safe and to get them together with an appropriate family.”
Miles added that the agency is looking for willing families that can speak both Spanish and English to take the children in for at least 30 to 45 days, and families will receive stipends of $20 a day to care for the children along with educational support offered by the agency.
However, questions remain as to how secure such living environments may be–not only for the community but also for the young people who are brought are placed into homes. Individuals trafficked into the United States may be most at risk when placed in less restrictive environments, Breitbart News learned recently from Brenda Zurita, a research fellow of the Washington, D.C.-based Concerned Women For America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute:
In the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2013 (Section 1261, which is an anti-trafficking provision), another layer was added to the care of UACs. If a UAC turns 18 while in the care of HHS and is then transferred to the custody of the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), the alien may be placed in an alternative to detention such as “with an individual or an organizational sponsor, or in a supervised group home.” How easy would it be for traffickers to snatch this young adult from these situations and put them into debt bondage, forced labor or sex trafficking?
However, Jesse Zermeno, founder and president of Operation Hope of Brevard, a Fellsmere-based organization that gives food, clothes, books, and other services to children and families with roots in Latin America, sees it differently, telling FT, “At the end of the day, it will be a good thing for someone in our community to touch these children’s lives.”
“These children, for sure, need to be with their parents. But now their future is unknown,” Zermeno said, adding, “Even with that, you just can’t put children in the street or expose them to danger again. We have to open our hearts and take care of the children and the system.”