MIAMI (CBSMiami) – More changes may be coming to the Homestead facility for unaccompanied minors, which has significantly ramped down the amount of children inside in recent weeks.
With fewer than 300 children currently at the facility, workers inside tell CBS4 the remaining children could be removed in a matter of days.
Many of the children have already been moved to smaller facilities.
Employees are being given no guarantees about how long their jobs will remain.
There is a belief that even if all the children are removed, the facility may technically remain open with a skeleton staff so that they can ramp up quickly if needed.
Officials have said the kids are being removed as part of a hurricane plan but the for-profit detention center has been buffeted by controversy in recent months as members of Congress and others have mounted daily protests.
ABOUT THE FACILITY
The Homestead shelter, which is the only for-profit child detention center in the country, currently houses under 300 children, all ages 13 to 17 years old.
It is the largest child detention center in the United States for unaccompanied minors, at one point this summer housing around 3000 children.
The facility is run by Caliburn International, a Virginia based company awarded a government contract to manage the center.
President Donald Trump’s former Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, is on the company’s board.
Caliburn International operates the facility under a no-bid contract that is worth more than $350 million.
They are waiting to be reunited with their families or paired with sponsors once they are screened by the U.S. government.
Many of the children are fleeing gang and domestic violence and will end up seeking asylum.
Children sleep up to 12 per room in steel-framed bunk beds, and warehouse-sized, air-conditioned white tents where minors attend classes and watch movies.
The facility has a command center. Inside are cameras, computers, and staff members who watch over the kids. They keep track of how many kids are in the shelter and how many are moved.
While numbers vary, officials say most are reunited with family members. Those who are not can be at the shelter for as long as 57 days. On average, a child’s stay there is about 25 days.
The children have school six hours a day and there are recreational activities.
At night, lights go out in the rooms at 10 p.m. but are left on in the hallways. The children are awakened each day at 6:30 a.m. for a full day’s program of activities and classes.
During the day, the kids are provided breakfast, lunch, dinner, and three snacks.
The children meet with their attorneys once a week. They also have access to clinicians and social workers.
On their arrival, they are given a five day supply of clothes, laundry is done every other day.
The facility, contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services, is surrounded by chain-link fence, but there is no barbed wire. There are guards, but they are not armed. Doors have been removed from the dormitory bedrooms.