TUCSON, Ariz. - A Federal contractor named Southwest Key has been housing immigrant children in Tucson for at least four years and has tried to keep its profile as low as possible. But an operation like that does leave a paper trial and it offers some insight into what goes on at the Tucson shelter.
Southwest Key began housing children at the complex near Oracle and Drachman in 2014 when a surge of unaccompanied minors challenged the government's ability to house them.
The buildings were a motel, then student housing before Southwest Key leased them and set up program for immigrant children.
The company releases almost no details on its operations but the City of Tucson issued certificates of occupancy that approve the buildings for roughly 325 residents.
We know Southwest Key has at least one other facility in the Phoenix area. The programs qualify for Federal school breakfast and lunch programs administered by the Arizona Department of Education. That agency says it channeled more than $2.1 million dollars to Southwest Key for food programs at its Arizona facilities.
Southwest Key's own job postings offer insight into the shelter operations. They show hiring to support medical care, security and education.
The posting for Lead Teacher calls for assessing a child's academic status within three days of his or her arrival, with another assessment at 45 days.
The Lead Teacher is to review and approve lessons plans by other educators at the shelter.
The job description for Youth Care Worker calls for those employees to care for the health and welfare of the children, help with vocational education and help plan trips to parks, museums and movies.
The Youth Care Worker must also be prepared to supervise clients from 0 to 17 years in age. And to "apply Southwest Key approved restraint techniques and otherwise manage or coerce the full weight of an adolescent."
Case Workers are expected to help educate the children on their rights and develop "...documentation to reunify youth with family in their home countries or in the United States as deemed applicable."