Cheryl Getty, Barclay Palmer and Anna Pycior
Big decisions today for the 437 children removed from the Texas ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Here's a quick rundown:
How will the children be cared for? Judge Barbara Walther says she wants to care for them as individuals, on a case by case basis. Texas Child Protection Services says that will be possible once DNA tests are in. "I feel a personal responsibility to what happens to every child, and I want to be kept updated about that with the children," Walther said.
Are there really pregnant teenagers? Gary Banks, attorney for Texas Child Protection Services (CPS), reported there are some minors with infants and some who are pregnant, though it's not yet clear how many.
How will they take care of infants? To help address each child’s needs, the children will be handled in three groups. Infants up to a year old will not be separated from their mothers if the mothers are adults. Children who are 1 to 2 years old will be separated from their mothers, but the mothers will have visitation rights. If the children are 2-5 years old, though, they’ll be sent to foster home settings.
How will they care for older children? Those who are 5-18 were already placed in facilities yesterday and will stay in the assigned shelter if it can comply with state regulations that define "long term shelter."
What next for the children? CPS insisted that it wasn't separating more mothers and children today, that those who have been moved were already separated from their mothers, most staying at the coliseum.
Where will they live? CPS says it is working to keep kids as close as possible to parents and allow visitation, so the children most likely will stay in Texas.
The children's health? All the children have received medical exams but not immunizations, which they should be receiving soon. They will see counselors and have at least one or two psychiatric sessions.
The children’s daily lives? The CPS is being careful to allow the children to wear and eat what they’re used to, even things sent from the compound. They’ll most likely be home schooled, too.
How will they coordinate everyone? A phone system in being set up to let the attorneys, parents and children communicate through CPS. And a secure Intranet database will allow attorneys and parents to log on and find updates on their children, whether they're being placed, and where.
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