News 12 gets look at facility housing migrant children separated from families

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Dobbs Ferry -

News 12 is getting a firsthand look at one of four Westchester-based facilities housing immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

News 12's Rebecca Solomon visited The Children's Village in Dobbs Ferry Friday. News 12 has also learned children are at centers in Yonkers, Irvington and Somers.

The Children's Village is a federally funded foster care system that provides children with resources such as boarding and recreational and medical centers. News 12 is told 20 children, ages 9 to 17, were brought to the facility after federal agents separated them from their parents.

The president of The Children's Village says the children have been in contact with their families and that they really want to know if their parents are OK.

Dr. Traci Gardner is the facility's chief medical officer for immigration services.

"When they come to me, they are nervous about getting a physical," says Gardner. "Sometimes I am the first doctor they've ever seen or met."
She says some children arrived on the 180-acre campus with minor health conditions, like colds and blisters and occasionally lice. Once they're treated, Gardner says the biggest challenge is helping them cope with separation from their parents.

 "When you start to talk about their families and they talk about their families and they say their family is here, their family has died, background on their families, they're tearful," says Gardner. "They're children at the end of the day. They're all children."

Trained staff guide the teens through a number of daily activities, including school and recreation, such as swimming and weightlifting.

Gardner says at the end of the day the children just want to know mom and dad are OK.

"The case manager will get the information from the family member, and they will be able to call that person with a phone number and figure out who is it they should be in contact with," says Gardner.

It's unclear if and when the children will be reunited with their loved ones.
"I think they do need our support while they're in our care and whether they voluntarily go back to their country or whatever happens to them, whether they stay here, it's our responsibility to care for them while they're in our care," says Gardner.

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