FLDS kids arrive in town

April 25, 2008 8:55:23 PM PDT
Children from the so-called polygamist ranch in west Texas have found a temporary home in our area. All afternoon, we showed you the buses bringing dozens of children to the Houston area. PHOTOS: See images from this story
COURT DOCUMENT: Petition that led to the an appeals ct. hearing

More than 400 children from the religious sect have been sent to shelters across the state. Many of them are now hundreds of miles from home. More than 30 children, many of them younger than five years old, are at Kidz Harbor in Brazoria County.

It was a quiet end to a long journey. Inside Kidz Harbor, 35 FLDS children are settling into their new home.

The busses pulled in around 6pm. They were greeted by staff and volunteers doing their best to protect them from all the attention. One by one, they stepped off - teenagers with infants, toddlers, young children and CPS case workers guiding a few, as well.

They came with their clothes. There were strollers and safety car seats. It was a long trip. They're now more than 400 miles from home and the only life they've ever known.

"New place, new people, and we're just trying to make them as comfortable as possible," said volunteer Jimmy Green.

Inside, all the rooms have been stripped of electronics, toys and TVs, as well as books that may be offensive. They've been replaced by simple toys, like balls and jump ropes.

The children from Eldorado are being kept separate from the 29 others that were already there. They will be given some freedom.

"We want to give them the opportunity to have a time and a place to get away and to be able to practice their religion as they see fit," said volunteer Bruce Colbert.

Of the 35 new residents, 25 are under the age of 5. People unloaded cribs and mattresses Friday afternoon, but there's still a need for more baby supplies, considering how long they may stay.

While the community has been welcoming, Charles Walker felt compelled to make a sign, leave his home in Angleton and voice his opinion about the whole case.

"It's not right what they're doing," he said "You just can't go to people's houses and take their children away and then come up with some evidence."

All of the children will be given psychological exams. They'll be home schooled at the facility. CPS case workers will stay on site.

Kidz Harbor need donations, especially baby supplies, like wipes, diapers, high chairs, cribs and mattresses. If you're interested, take your donations to either the Pearland or Freeport Police Department, as well as Liverpool City Hall.

Another group of children from the FLDS is at Boys and Girls Country in Hockley. They got to the facility just before 5pm. Two buses were escorted in by two state troopers. The windows were tinted, so we couldn't clearly see who was on the bus.

When the busses got onto campus, it appeared they used the second bus to shield the children as they were getting off so we were not able to see them. We're told Boys and Girls County was expected 16 of the kids from the Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado, ranging in age from one month to 8 years old.

They will stay in cottages on the facility. Each 5,000 square foot house holds 8 kids and a house couple. There are two children per room and they each share a bathroom.

The state troopers left about five minutes after the busses got there. The two busses stayed for about 45 minutes before leaving.

Thirty-seven other children from the Eldorado church arrived in Liverpool Friday, as well.

Donations

Child Protective Services is still collecting donations for the children. Because of the cultural differences, CPS is being very particular about what kinds of items they give the FLDS children. They are accepting items like toothpaste, blankets and gift cards. If you wish to donate items, contact Bernadette Cashin at 713-940-5252.

Appeals court

A Texas appeals court is set to hear arguments from dozens of mothers of the FLDS church next Tuesday. The 48 women claim the state did not give them a fair hearing before they took their children away. They were trying to keep the children from being sent out across the state. The appeals court hearing is in jeopardy since the children have already been spread out across the state.

Hoax call?

The raid of the FLDS ranch came after a phone call for help from a 16-year-old girl who said she was being abused. Investigators now think that was a hoax phone call made by 33-year-old Rozita Swinton. Authorities have not decided whether they will file charges. - Headlines at a glance


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