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Southwest Key facilities in Arizona to temporarily stop accepting kids

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

PHOENIX — All of the Southwest Key facilities that house migrant children in Arizona will temporarily stop accepting minors and two facilities will shut their doors after the parent company settled with the state over a missed deadline regarding employee background checks.

Southwest Key spokesman Jeff Eller told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday that Casa Phoenix in Phoenix and Hacienda Del Sol in Youngtown will surrender their licenses and the children housed at the facilities would be relocated.

“We will fully and completely comply with this agreement,” Eller said in a statement.

“We are committed to making the improvements that are spelled out and we look forward to building on these changes for the future.”

The Hacienda Del Sol stopped housing children on Sept. 18 due to abuse allegations, but Eller said the company was still working out the details regarding when the other facility would close and where the children would be rehoused.

Eller said as many as 559 children up to 17 years old could be housed at both facilities.

All of the Southwest Key facilities in Arizona would stop accepting migrant children until the state Department of Health Services lifts the suspension.

The settlement with the department also involved paying a $73,000 fine and employing a third-party health care consultant.

“This agreement, coupled with continued cooperation from our federal partners, will build a solid framework that provides a safe and therapeutic environment for children under Southwest Key’s care,” Department of Health Services spokeswoman Melissa Blasius-Nuanez said in a statement.

Southwest Key failed to meet a Sept. 14 deadline to go through the clearance of more than 2,000 employees. The deadline was set due to reports of children being abused by shelter staff.

Shortly after the deadline was missed, the Department of Health Services issued notices of intent to revoke the licenses of all Southwest Key Arizona shelters. The department has agreed to vacate those notices as part of the agreement.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood and Nailea Leon contributed to this report. 

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