In moments of uncertainty, there is one thing that has always remained clear to me – Los Angeles County is firmly rooted in comunidad.
That is why I am proud to share that the Pomona Fairplex agreed to provide an emergency intake site (EIS) for unaccompanied children who have recently come to the United States, with children arriving as soon as tomorrow. This site will do much more than serve as a temporary shelter – it will be a safe haven with holistic care and services to meet their immediate needs while they are waiting to be united with a family member or with a caring sponsor.
As a daughter of immigrants and a public servant to so many County residents who are immigrants, I feel this responsibility strongly. That is why when the White House called me, I knew without question that it was time for Los Angeles County to step up, as we always do. I thank President Biden and Vice President Harris for recognizing that these young people need the care, sustenance, recreational activities, and educational opportunities that Los Angeles County, the Pomona Fairplex, and other critical partners will provide.
Ultimately, the values of comunidad and care for one another as a County are what has led us through the darkness of the pandemic, and these principles will serve as our north star in addressing this humanitarian crisis.
I know many of you will join us in these efforts, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. To learn more about the site, please refer to the frequently asked questions below. I will be sure to provide more updates in the coming days.
Chair Hilda L. Solis
Supervisor, First District
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who will be operating this site?
- The site, hosted on the Pomona Fairplex campus, will be operated by Cherokee Federal, through a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Local service providers will be instrumental.
What is Los Angeles County’s role?
- Although this initiative is under the direction of the federal government, which is responsible for operating the site, the County and its partners are stepping up to consult and advise, and to provide support as long as needed to these children. Key support by County departments includes:
- The Department of Children and Family Services is providing social workers and child-services support to assist with reunification services and case management
- The Department of Health Services is conducting initial health assessments, and providing acute and chronic medical care and vaccine support for all childhood immunizations
- The Department of Mental Health is providing interim mental health screenings, assessments and clinical care through clinicians, promotoras, and other mental health professionals
- The Los Angeles County Office of Education is helping to coordinate educational and other critical services
What is the purpose of this site?
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has contracted with Fairplex to provide temporary shelter for unaccompanied children. Unaccompanied children are defined by HHS as children who enter the country without their parent or legal guardian and children who for other reasons have been separated from their parent or legal guardian. An EIS is a transition center where unaccompanied children are placed while they are being connected with family members or foster homes.
Where are the unaccompanied children staying?
- Children will be on the Fairplex’s campus and will receive three meals a day, snacks and shower facilities. There are no cages; each child will have their own sleeping cot.
Is this an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation center?
- No, this is not a deportation center. EIS is a temporary shelter to reunify children as quickly as possible. It is under the umbrella of HHS.
What services will be provided at this site?
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the lead agency heading the program to care for unaccompanied children. Emergency intake sites, through HHS, provide housing, nutrition, physical and mental healthcare, educational services, and recreational activities. Most crucially, these children will have a case manager to ensure they are quickly and safely reunited with family. For more information please visit HHS’ website here.
What kinds of activities will be available to the children?
- With ample space at the Pomona Fairplex, children will have access to soccer fields and outdoor spaces so they can connect with nature and play outdoors. This also includes other recreational areas, with lounging areas, toys, books, and other opportunities for play.
What COVID-19 safety precautions are in place at the EIS?
- Unaccompanied children will be tested upon arrival, and periodically thereafter. COVID positive children will be in a cohort together, away from the rest of the children and provided medical care.
How are sponsors identified?
- One of ORR’s priorities is ensuring the safe reunification of unaccompanied children with an appropriate sponsor. In each of the ORR programs, case managers will work with the children to identify a sponsor in the U.S. Most sponsors are parents or close family relatives. If the sponsor checks out and can provide a safe place for the child to live while they go through their immigration proceedings – the child is unified with the sponsor. As a part of the unification process, potential sponsors must undergo a criminal public records check, and in most cases, a sex offender registry check. When there is a safety concern for release to a related sponsor or when considering release to an unrelated sponsor, ORR also conducts background checks on adult household members and individuals identified in a potential sponsor’s care plan.
How do emergency intake sites affect our community?
- The impact on the local community is minimal. These shelters are consistently quiet and good neighbors in the communities where they are located. HHS pays for and provides all services for the children while they are in care at a shelter. This includes food, clothing, education, medical screening and any additional medical care required. Children remain under HHS staff supervision at all times.
How long will the emergency intake site be at Fairplex?
- HHS has a contract for 60 days, with the option of an extension, for up to a year.
Who will be paying for the site and services provided?
- There will be no direct services or costs incurred by the City of Pomona or Los Angeles County. All services and expenses are the responsibility of HHS.
How can I help? What if I want to make a donation?
- Since the announcement, there has been an outpouring of support from the community to welcome these children, from donations to volunteering. For this effort, Fairplex is partnering with the Pomona Community Foundation (PCF), a local independent foundation whose Board is made up of the leaders of various civic institutions in Pomona. Monetary donations can be made to the Pomona Community Foundation – Esperanza Fund at: https://connect.calfund.org/pomona-community-foundationThe Esperanza Fund will help support the direct needs of the children, such as reunification packages for children who are safely released to a family member, sponsor, or transferred to an appropriate HHS shelter for longer-term care. The Esperanza Fund will partner with a local Pomona nonprofit to assess the needs and provide appropriate items of support as the children transition from the Fairplex Emergency Intake Site.
If you are interested in donating in-kind items, please return to this website for updates in the coming weeks. https://fairplex.com/aboutus/hhs-teamhope