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Central Florida Could be Getting a Permanent Shelter for Unaccompanied Minors


The Department of Health and Human Services says it is exploring the possibility of building a permanent shelter for unaccompanied minors in Central Florida along with two other states. 

Along with vacant land in Central Florida-the agency is considering land in California and Virginia for potential sites of these shelters.

HHS already runs a temporary shelter for unaccompanied minors in Homestead, Florida. 

State Representative Anna Eskamani says she’s concerned about how this facility and others like it are run-as public access is limited. 

“They don’t have access to a healthy environment. They’re getting sick. They are having to be sent in some cases to hospitals because of the lack of quality of life within these facilities."

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Eskamani says she’s also concerned about the additional cost to taxpayers of building a new shelter and the strain it could put on law enforcement agencies. 

That’s why she says the agency’s focus should be on reuniting these children with their parents or guardians or placing them in foster homes.  

“Policy around unaccompanied minors focuses on having these young people actually placed into homes. And that would be the ideal option for reducing their trauma. And it's also going to be the more cost-effective option.”

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HHS in a statement says these permanent shelters are needed to respond to an increase of children crossing the border without a parent or guardian. 
If you'd like to listen to Anna talk about these shelters, click on the clips above.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.