Report: Personnel Issues At Migrant Child Housing Facilities
Arizona health officials have spotted personnel records concerns at several facilities housing migrant children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Arizona Department of Health Services officials on Thursday released the results of their inspections of 13 Southwest Key facilities after allegations surfaced last month of sex abuse at facilities in Glendale and Tucson.
SHS officials said one facility had eight personnel records with late applications for fingerprint clearance cards, which are related to the background check process.
At some facilities, officials spotted bedrooms that didn't give enough square footage per individual or didn't have privacy curtains.
Southwest Key has agreed to enhanced inspections and disclosure protocols.
The report also said the nonprofit organization was making the necessary changes to affected bedrooms.
Meanwhile, state health officials are pursuing civil penalties for the fingerprint card violations.
Southwest Key spokesman Jeff Eller told the Arizona Republic that the agency welcomed expanded oversight, saying it's similar to what organization already is required to do in Texas and California.
Shelters that house immigrant children have come under scrutiny since the Trump administration introduced a "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal entries that has led to the separation of families at the border.
The news website ProPublica published a report in late July saying police responded to at least 125 calls reporting sex offenses at shelters that primarily serve immigrant children since 2014.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey directed health officials to inspect the 13 facilities after the reports of abuse "to ensure the state is doing everything within the state's authority to ensure the safety and care of children in these facilities," gubernatorial spokesman Daniel Ruiz said in a statement.
"The provider will be held accountable for all deficiencies identified and have agreed to enhanced inspections and disclosure protocols," Ruiz added. "Our agencies remain engaged on this issue and will do everything within their authority to ensure these facilities comply with state law, provide proper care to children, and are held accountable when necessary."