A foster family in Washington state has been told to vacate their home by the non-profit organization that provided it, in order to make space for housing unaccompanied migrant children.
Friends of Youth, a non-profit that provides services to homeless and foster children, told Edmundo Serena Sanchez and his wife Paual to vacate their home in Renton, Wa. Edmundo and Paual are licensed therapeutic foster parents, who are trained to raise children with serious behavioral problems, NBC affiliate King 5 reported on Thursday. They’ve raised more than 20 foster children in the home over the seven years they’ve lived there.
Serena Sanchez said that Friends of Youth, which currently serves over 3,000 children in the Seattle area, sent him a notice on January 29 that his foster home contract “will be terminated,” and that the house would be used “to provide a different scope of services in support of unaccompanied youth.”
“Unaccompanied youth” is the federal term for unaccompanied migrant children, and the Biden administration is currently struggling with a major influx of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration projects that over 16,000 children will have crossed the border in March alone, breaking the previous record of 11,475 set in May 2019, according to Axios. The projections indicate that over 20,000 migrant children may cross the border for every month from April through September in 2021.
Serena Sanchez said that the order to vacate their home came as a shock to his family. One child had to be brought to the hospital after suffering panic attacks, while another teenager ran away after hearing the news.
“I worry very much about him because he’s 16 …17 years old and he doesn’t have a job,” Serena Sanchez told King 5. “We choose to [foster] teenagers because they’re really hard to find places for them.”
Washington State Representative Michelle Caldier, a Republican and former foster child, speculated that Friends of Youth may have taken a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to house migrant children because of the opportunity for additional federal funding. However, Friends of Youth chief program officer DeAnn Adams said this was not the case.
“The money is not a factor in this decision,” Adams said. It is “directly related to being able to use our resources in order to serve the largest number of youth that we’re able. We will not be receiving additional or increased revenue as a result of this decision.”
The decision by Friends of Youth comes as the Biden administration grapples with finding places to house migrant children crossing the southern border. Federal agencies have sought to house migrants at hotels, convention centers, and even army bases, in order to ease pressure on border officials.
The Department of Health and Human Services is tasked with housing migrant children, however because of a backlog in processing due to the influx, many children are still stuck at Border Patrol detention centers near the border. One facility in Donna, Texas, is currently housing migrant children at over 1,600 percent capacity because of the backlog.
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