DCF inspects Topeka nonprofit caring for children separated at border

Published: Jun. 22, 2018 at 11:38 AM CDT
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The Dept. of Children and Families dispatched one of their licensing staff members to The Villages, Inc., on Friday, the agency says.

Their move comes a day after the non-profit said some of the children who had been separated from their parents at the Mexican border were sent there.

DCF said it wanted ensure the safety and well-being of children placed at the facility and found "the children seem to be adjusting well, and are having their needs met."

The statement came just hours after Gov. Jeff Colyer announced DCF officials would conduct an inspection of the The Villages.

“Governor Colyer stands behind the President and his Executive Order ending the policy of separating children and their families," his office said at the time. "Our hope is that these children are returned to their families as soon as possible.”

DCF added that Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel had spoken with The Villages' Executive Director Sylvia Crawford about the children and the program and came away "satisfied that they are being provided excellent service in their time of need."

Earlier in day, Democratic lawmakers addressed the public with concerns about The Villages, Inc. housing unaccompanied alien children (UAC) separated from their parents at the border on Friday.

"Who gives a s--t what the state's authority is?" Representative John Alcala (D-Topeka) said. "Are those kids being cared for and how is the money being spent?"

Alcala was joined by Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka) and House Minority Leader Jim Ward (D-Wichita) calling for Gov. Jeff Colyer to reveal the plan for the children at the facility.

"It is deeply concerning to me that these children have been coming to this facility, The Villages, since April and we have been given no specific information about them,” Hensley said. “It is even more concerning that Gov. Colyer has remained silent on the matter.”

A statement from the Governor's Office said, "No one supports separating children from their families. The children in Kansas are in the custody of the federal government and the Governor is hopeful they will be reunited with their families soon."

The legislators submitted a formal application to the Office of Refugee Resettlement to tour The Villages. Ward said he is concerned with the two week waiting period that is required before visiting the facility.

"We have no information that indicates The Villages is not doing a great job taking care of these children,” Ward said. “It’s concerning that they say you can’t come in and look for two weeks."

The requested date for their visit is July 5, 2018.

The Villages confirmed Thursday that it has a federal contract to house 50 unaccompanied immigrant children at its seven group homes in Topeka and Lawrence. But it would not say whether any of them had been separated from their parents during recent crackdown at the border.

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