.By Katie Jickling VTDigger.org
Vermont does not have adequate facilities to house some of the undocumented immigrant children from Central America being held at the U.S. border, the Shumlin administration said Monday.
“Unlike Massachusetts, Vermont does not have a hosting site that meets Health and Human Services’ Criteria,” said a letter from Gov. Peter Shumlin to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS guidelines suggest the need for a 90,000-square-foot facility that could house about 1,000 children.
The federal government has no timeline for when the children might arrive, or how long they could stay, said Sue Allen, the governor’s spokeswoman who is coordinating efforts in the state. Although some Vermonters have offered to open their homes, foster care or adoption is not an option, the letter stated.
Massachusetts has identified two sites — Camp Edwards military base in Bourne and Westover Reserve Air Force Base in Chicopee – as possible sites. Should the federal government send children there, Vermont has offered to assist in any way that’s needed.
The Shumlin administration has also identified potential sites to house 75-100 children.
“Every space we have, there are problems that come with it,” Allen said.
Nevertheless, she said the administration would be willing to help however it can.
Larry Crist, Red Cross regional executive for Vermont and the Upper Valley of New Hampshire, said Shumlin called on the Red Cross to assess possibilities for the placement of the children.
“We have, to the best of our knowledge, not found anywhere that meets that and the other requirements that were involved,” Crist said. “In other words, there just isn’t any place in Vermont that was big enough.”