As immigration officials are contending with more than 14,000 unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border, one government agency in California is asking foster parents how many migrant children they can house, including an option for more than 26 kids.
The Daily Mail first published news of the development, reporting the Community Care Licensing Division, a branch of California’s Department of Social Services, sent foster parents the following voice message: “This is an emergency message. Please respond to this urgent message from the Community Care Licensing Division. CCLD would like to know how many available beds you have to serve additional youth.”
Some foster care parents, like Travis and Sharla Kall, who lead a nonprofit centered on combating human trafficking, said they received a subsequent email, which stated: “Important message from the Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) –CA Department of Social Services. Please respond to this urgent message from the Community Care Licensing Division. CCLD would like to know how many available beds you have to serve additional youth.”
It went on to give foster parents four options, ranging from “zero,” to “1-10,” then to “11-25,” and finally to “26+.”
Scott Murray, deputy director of public affairs and outreach programs for the state’s Department of Social Services, confirmed the message in a statement to Faithwire.
“In the case of unaccompanied minor children who cross the border, responsibility for their care falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” he said in an email. “Should any unaccompanied minors in this situation be placed by the federal government in licensed children’s residential facilities or homes in California, our role at CDSS is to ensure licensed facilities meet California’s health and safety standards.”
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“In response to a request from HHS for an expedited effort to determine which licensed facilities may be willing to assist,” he continued, “CDSS sent out a survey to licensed homes.”
Some of the “licensed homes” include group facilities designed for larger groups, Scott noted.
Travis Kall explained to the Daily Mail that, generally speaking, the “maximum amount of children” foster parents are allowed to house at one time “is six.”
“We called our case worker and she told us that everyone was calling her because they had got that same call,” he told the outlet. “She said there was a big influx of children coming in, but she didn’t know where from.”
According to the Children’s Law Center of California, in Los Angeles County alone, there are more than 33,000 youth in the foster care system.
With that in mind, Sharla Kall argued the request from CDSS is inappropriate.
“To ask us already certified foster parents to take on children from another country when we can barely take care of our own foster crisis doesn’t seem beneficial to either side,” she said, “because, either way, someone loses a bed.”
Her husband took it a bit farther, arguing he sees sinister motives behind the scenes for a lot of the children who have ended up at the border.
“I consider it human trafficking,” Travis Kall said. “It’s not the burden of taking kids in — because we have the heart for it — but these kids that were taken from the border for a money scheme, and now, they’re going to use us resource parents to take care of them.”
Several Republican lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives are sponsoring legislation to criminalize so-called “child recycling” at the border, which Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) described as using the same child “repeatedly to gain entry [to the U.S.] by alien adults who are neither relatives nor legal guardians.”
Estimates compiled by Customs and Border Protection found that, in February, criminal organizations trafficking women, children, and families, raked in as much as $14 million a day, totaling around $411.5 million.