Caretakers briefed on FLDS children

April 27, 2008 11:54:30 AM PDT
From Amarillo to Houston, children from the polygamist ranch in West Texas are settling into new surroundings, and caretakers are getting cultural pointers on how to deal with them. PHOTOS: See images from this story
COURT DOCUMENT: Petition that led to the an appeals ct. hearing No television, no movies, no radio and nothing red.

"The color 'RED' is not acceptable for clothing," said a memo that the Texas Department of Child Protective Services sent to caretakers for the 462 children seized this month from the Yearning for Zion ranch.

Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe red is reserved for Jesus Christ, according to officials in Utah.

So workers at the Children's Shelter in San Antonio spent part of the week taking anything colored red off the walls and floors. v Another memo from state officials to caretakers describes the children's dietary and clothing needs.

Some officials said they were sensitive to potential culture shock among the children, who led a sheltered life on the ranch near Eldorado.

"Help them with self-esteem, guilty feelings, shame, confusion about mainstream culture, and learning basic decision making skills," said another memo to caretakers.

The last busloads of children from the group left the San Angelo Coliseum on Friday, headed for shelters and group homes around the state. One bus had to stop several times on the way to Brazoria County, south of Houston, because some of the children got motion sickness.

"Some of them probably haven't even ridden in a vehicle before," state trooper Dial King told the Houston Chronicle.

Near Amarillo, Cal Farley's Boys Ranch took in 18 more boys on Friday, bringing to 72 the number of FLDS children under its care. Dan Adams, chief executive of the ranch, said staffers got pointers to help them understand the dress, food and cultural ways of the children.

"We've been working very closely with Child Protective Services in trying to understand and be aware of whatever unique circumstances these children came out of and what they are used to," Adams told the Amarillo Globe-News. "Obviously, anybody (who) is going to be directly involved with the kids, we want them to be as competent and educated as they can be on those things."

In Fort Worth, Catholic Charities is adding more staffers to handle the 35 Eldorado children it received this week, said Anne Mason, the group's director of development. Employees turned a former orphanage back into a children's home, she said.

A judge awarded custody of the children to the state after child-welfare officials argued they could be in danger in Eldorado, where officials say young girls were forced to marry much older men and bear their children.

State officials hope that removing the children far from their West Texas ranch may make them more willing to speak freely about even such basic things as their names and ages.

"The children are in a position to no longer on a daily basis be influenced by adults who have encouraged a code of silence," said Darrell Azar, a spokesman for Child Protective Services. "Now that they are away from that influence they may become more comfortable and we will have a better chance of learning the truth." 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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