FLA.– As tens of thousands of children continue to show up at the U.S. border without parents, many of those children could soon be headed to Florida for care.
Some of those kids might be placed in Southwest Florida.
The case of a 16-year-old unaccompanied Guatemalan boy was in a Lee County courtroom on Monday.
The boy was handed over to the state for care. Child advocates say nearly a thousand kids just like him could be headed to Florida.
More than 18K children are being housed at the border. The federal government is running out of room.
CEO of the Florida Coalition of Children Kurt Kelly said the government seems to be unsure how to handle this growing crisis.
Kelly confirmed on Monday that the federal government wants to bring some of these kids to Florida.
“We want to be compassionate but we also want to be very cautious and do it the right way,” Kelly stressed.
He said the the state would likely be able to take up to 1,000 kids.
“Would we be ready immediately? I think we have some facilities that could probably take them on,” Kelly said.
While the children would be spread out across the state, there is limited room available in Southwest Florida according to Nadereh Salim with the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida.
“We really don’t have that much capacity. It would be a challenge if we had an influx of kids coming into our care,” said Salim.
There are 106 beds in SWFL group homes and Salim said 80% of those beds are filled with Florida children.
That leaves a limited number of bilingual foster parents to care for the migrant children.
“Honestly, we struggle placing our own children,” Salim noted.
This could leave children competing for care.