Southwest Key Programs operates an off-limits compound at 1601 N Oracle Road near Drachman Street, north of downtown in Tucson
9-19-18 UPDATE: Arizona moves to revoke licenses from all Southwest Key migrant-children shelters https://goo.gl/qVxUA9 The government contractor failed to provide proof its workers had the required background checks.
Up to 300 migrant children ages 5 to 17 are warehoused at a dangerous facility run by Southwest Key Programs in Tucson. “There seem to be some real problems here,” said state Representative Kirsten Engel, speaking at a recent meeting of the Democrats of Greater Tucson.
The Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) made an inspection and found “numerous violations that employees have fingerprint cards, and space and privacy for kids.” DHS negotiated an agreement with Southwest Key giving DHS the power to make unannounced inspections.
“It’s a black box,” she said of the compound, which is closed to the public. “When we were at Southwest Key there was a representative from the Denver regional office of the HHS (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), but we didn’t get a lot of information from him.”
Southwest Key is a massive private contractor that is paid $485 million by the federal government to warehouse 5,200 children in 26 facilities in Arizona, California, and Texas. In Arizona, it houses 1,500 children in 13 different shelters.
The children are technically not incarcerated. “They are in a ‘mandatory temporary child shelter situation,'” Engel said. “They are in the hands of a private entity. One of the issues is that it is all being done by private contract and is not being adequately overseen by a state agency.”
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