Local group has housed hundreds of immigrant children

WASHINGTON — A group in Northern Virginia has housed hundreds of immigrant children who entered the country illegally, WTOP has learned.

Youth for Tomorrow, a nonprofit in Bristow, “is the only facility in Prince William County that has contracted with the federal government to take these unaccompanied alien children,” says Virginia Delegate Rich Anderson (R-51). “Within 36 hours of their arrival at the facility, they are getting a full medical examination and any inoculations.”

Anderson and other lawmakers in Prince William County are pressing Youth for Tomorrow for more information about its facility.

Dr. Gary Jones, CEO of Youth for Tomorrow, recently provided a report to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. Among other things, it shows the group has taken part in the program since June 2012, and has housed about 200 children since then.

Currently, 80 are living at the facility.

“They are going to school there,” Anderson says. “They’re not going to public schools, any schooling is being done on the premises.”

In his report, Dr. Jones claims there have been no runaways, and that no local, state or Medicaid funds have been used in connection with the services.

On average, children stay 35 days before being placed with a sponsor, typically a family member.

The program is controlled by an office within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), an agency under the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the ACF, the crisis of children entering the country has grown to an overwhelming level.

Typically, the program handles between 7,000 and 8,000 children annually. The latest figure for fiscal year 2014 is projected at 60,000.

ACF reports the children are mainly coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

It is incredibly dangerous for children who travel from Central America to the United States. They must go through entire countries, trying their best to avoid being targeted by gangs and other criminals.

“The kids that make it to the United States are the lucky kids,” says Lindolfo Carballo, spokesman for the advocacy group Casa De Virginia.

“Many kids don’t even make it here,” he explains. “They got killed in the journey.”

He says high crime and a lack of opportunities are the main reasons they choose to risk it all and make the trip.

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