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Media gets tour of Fort Sill shelter

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One of the dorms that the children sleep in One of the dorms that the children sleep in
Exterior view of the housing facility Exterior view of the housing facility
Examination tables use for in-house treatment Examination tables use for in-house treatment
Dining hall Dining hall
The children are given proper medical care The children are given proper medical care

FORT SILL, Okla._For the first time since their arrival, members of the media from across the state were invited to tour the housing facility on Fort Sill for the unaccompanied minors who crossed the U.S. southern border illegally.

In images provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, you can see rows of beds and art made by the children hanging on the walls. During a 40 minute tour, reporters were given the chance to check out where the children eat, sleep, and play.

Since the facility opened June 14, it's seen over 1,700 children come through it's doors. HHS said with that many children, whom they have between 1,000 and 1,200 daily, they need the facilities to take care of them properly.

It's a large facility, one that previously housed soldiers in basic training, which has now been converted to take care of children. The children are medically and mentally screened before their arrival to Fort Sill. Once here, they are taken to an intake area where rules are explained and they are screened again for lice and scabies.

The goal for HHS is to reconnect the children to families or sponsor families in the United States. The families must take that child to their immigration court proceedings. There are 27 case managers working daily on each child's case to find their family. An average of 250 kids visit their case manager each day.

The children are living in what HHS calls dormitories, 60 beds to a dorm, with each child having their own bed and wall locker.

Boys and girls are separated.

They are given clothes as well: shirts, underwear, sweat pants, gym shorts, blue jeans and a pair of shoes. Girls are also given feminine products if needed. They take two showers a day, the first one starting around 6:00 a.m.

A large group of the children were playing soccer in a field; others were drawing, making bracelets, watching movies, playing games, or listening to music. In the girls’ dorm, a group of girls were singing and dancing to Cindy Lauper's 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun.'

The children are taught basic English and math. They can also go to a Bible study if they choose. They are encouraged to decorate their dorms and hallways with pictures they have drawn or colored. HHS officials said this makes the place feel more like home for them.

The dining facility on site provides the children with three meals a day and two snacks in between meals. They are offered fruit, milk, Gatorade, water, and juice. Staff members eat the same meals as the kids. Some of the staff members said the meals aren't the best but they can't complain. They said it's similar to basic, everyday cafeteria food.

They have over 80 medical professionals including a pediatric emergency physician, 24 registered nurses, and much more. They go as far as to place two paramedics on each floor of the three story facility. The facility also has examination tables where the children can be taken care of if they have an illness, twisted ankle, or some other minor medical issue.

If they have the cold, flu, or some other infection or rash, there is a holding room where they are constantly observed until they get better.

HHS and BCFS, Baptist Child and Family Services, take illnesses seriously to prevent them from spreading. They go as far as to tell kids to make sure they drink water from plastic bottles so illnesses aren't transferred by water fountains.

If there is a serious emergency, they are transferred to one of the local hospitals for treatment.

It seems that most of the kids enjoy their environment. During the tour, the sound of basic trainees marching by and shouting cadences could be heard. But it wasn’t basic trainees, it was a line of boys casually walking and having fun saying “mighty might Bravo.” The boys are staying in the Bravo dorm and the girls are staying in Charlie.

The average stay for a child at the facility is 15 days. If a family isn't found for the child, they typically remain under the care of HHS.


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