Community could house border children

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, August 20, 2014
A Des Moines based non-profit organization known as the Eychaner Foundation recently launched "1000 Kids for Iowa." It's asking West Liberty to be a part of the program.

The program aims to find temporary and long term housing in Iowa for many of the children being held at one of the many border states.

Project Director Jessica Brackett visited West Liberty Saturday morning, Aug. 16, attempting to build community support, secure funding and find homes…if the children really do arrive.

"We're acting on the belief that, if you build it they will come," she told around 25 community members in Local Grounds. Right now there is no guarantee that children will actually be sent to Iowa. No agreement has been reached between federal officials and the Eychaner Foundation.

Since last October an estimated 57,000 children have been detained while attempting to cross the United States/Mexico border. Since then it has become a national issue in the media and Washington D.C.

Some states have offered varying degrees of aid or help towards the children. However, Iowa, like many others, has yet to really sway one way or the other.

However, 1000 Kids for Iowa is banking on possible federal support, despite whatever Iowa decides, said Brackett. If the federal government gives them the go ahead they'll move forward, even if the state government isn't on board.

"We will not place any kids in homes without federal support," she said. "But once we get stronger we believe the government will support us."

Brackett has traveled to several Iowa communities in an effort to find 1,000 possible homes in Iowa, she said she has secured approximately 250 so far.

Her goal in West Liberty was to find community leaders to seriously begin promoting the program around West Liberty, that way it'll be ready if the children do arrive. She believes West Liberty to be a perfect community for the program, considering that more than half of the population is Latino and many of them are from Central America.

However, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to actually housing the children at the moment. Children will need homes anywhere from four months for those going back to Central America, to three years for those seeking asylum.

Also, issues such as medical care and the school's role in teaching the children are not cemented. Those who offered a place to stay should be notified with more info soon.

Brackett says they'll work their best to keep families together, and that those without enough room can give money to support those who are housing children.

Brackett added that several churches have jumped on board to take care of the children, the program is also receiving support from the ACLU, Interfaith Alliance and Lulac.

She said that online support through community pages should be available, and that communities should set up times for the children to mingle and be together as a whole.

But what if the children never arrive?

"We really do believe our work will strengthen the foster system overall," said Brackett. "It's a win-win no matter what because we're building coalitions across lines."
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