Children removed from housing facility after abuse allegations

GALVESTON, TX (KTRK) -- A residential facility in Galveston that houses children in federal custody is now empty. Eyewitness News has learned all the kids have been removed over an allegation of abuse or neglect.

The facility, located in the 4200 block of Avenue N, is called the Galveston Multicultural Institute. According to its website, it houses undocumented minors who enter the country without parents. It is one of ten programs run by non-profit The Children's Center Inc.

In March, the Texas of Department of Family and Protective Services received a complaint of abuse or neglect. Sometime after, the Administration for Children and Families, a federal agency, removed the children. Sources tell Eyewitness News the Department of Public Safety has opened a criminal investigation.

"Any time there's an allegation of abuse or neglect, there's always concern, and we want to make sure we do a thorough investigation," said Tiffani Butler, with Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Butler says the state is investigating whether the home meets all the minimum standards required of residential facilities. The facility housed at least 13 children, ages 5-17. The soccer fields and swings on the property are now still.

The Children's Center Inc. released the following statement to Eyewitness News:

"As an organization, The Children's Center is fully cooperating with the appropriate officials regarding the investigation. In working with State Officials, The Center has been informed that no alleged victims have been identified; no out-cries of abuse or neglect has been made; and that we have implemented a safety plan to their satisfaction, and it has been implemented with no concern on our part.

"In working with Federal Officials, The Center has submitted a corrective action plan and addressed concerns - none of which interfere with services provided to children and youth."

No agency has verified the information provided by The Children's Center Inc.

A DPS spokesman said the agency had "no information to release at this time."
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