PRESS RELEASE

City of Long Beach 
Public Information Office
411 W. Ocean Blvd, 
Long Beach, CA 90802

4/22/2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEPress Release # 042221
Subject:
Operations Begin for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Migrant Children Shelter at the Long Beach Convention Center
Contact:
City of Long Beach Joint Information Center
562.570.NEWS
jic@longbeach.gov
HHS Contact: Zhan Caplan
Zhan.Caplan@hhs.gov




Long Beach, CA - Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began operations for their Emergency Intake Shelter, located at the Long Beach Convention Center, for unaccompanied children arriving from the border of Mexico. Long Beach has welcomed its first group of children, a mixed group of boys and girls, today.

“Today, we begin to welcome migrant children to Long Beach. The mission of this humanitarian shelter is quick family reunification,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We must treat every single child with compassion, kindness and love.”

While at the shelter, children will be under the care and custody of HHS. Upon their arrival to the shelter, children will be assigned a youth care worker who will be responsible for supervising their care. Other staff will provide health and medical care, case management services to ensure safe reunification with a relative or verified sponsor, mental health counseling, and educational services. Most children are expected to stay at the HHS shelter between seven and 10 days while HHS facilitates the reunification process.

The HHS shelter is located throughout the Convention Center exhibition halls, meeting rooms and ballrooms, with most accommodations located inside and one safe and secure recreational area outside. The living accommodations are divided into sections and are designed to be as comfortable and comforting for the children as possible.

Children will receive a variety of essential services and access to amenities including:

  • Medical services equipped for routine pediatric exams and emergency services, if needed.
  • Meals three times a day and snacks.
  • Hygiene amenities including indoor and outdoor restrooms, personal hygiene kits and private shower facilities.
  • Sleeping quarters including designated, age-appropriate bedding, sheets, blankets and pillows.
  • Educational services in designated classrooms, including four hours of structured education each day, access to a variety of donated books in both English and Spanish, arts and crafts, and individual learning activities.
  • Bilingual signage, staff and translation services.
  • Clothing will be provided to each child, which they may keep once they leave the shelter, including shorts, pants, shirts, jackets, undergarments and shoes. Laundry services will also be provided.
  • Indoor recreation, including an expansive indoor area with access to TVs, video games, board games and lounge areas. The indoor recreation area also opens up to the outdoor area, creating an open and inviting atmosphere for the children.
  • Unlimited outdoor recreation including guided physical activities and access to a variety of sporting equipment for small group and individual play.
  • International telephone services to call a family member, relative or friend.
  • Legal representation and services will beavailable onsite.

All arriving children will be tested for COVID-19 prior to their intake to the shelter and will be required to be tested every three days for the duration of their stay. The shelter is equipped with a separate wing to house children who test positive. Most HHS shelter staff will be vaccinated. Staff will also be tested regularly to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

The HHS shelter at the Convention Center has the capacity to accommodate up to 1,000 children.

To protect the identity and wellbeing of the children staying at the shelter, all of whom are minors under the age of 18, public access, including media access, is not permitted.  To ensure transparency, HHS and the City facilitated a walkthrough of the shelter for elected officials, select media representatives and representatives from local community groups prior to the shelter being populated with children. Once the children arrive, for their security and privacy, general public tours will not be allowed.

Due to the level of local public interest in this HHS shelter, the City will continue to work diligently with the federal government to provide timely information regarding federal shelter operations, as deemed appropriate. The City has also developed a list of FAQs to provide the public with additional information.

In response to the overwhelming interest from the community to provide additional support for these children, on April 19 the City launched a webpage with detailed information on how community members, local organizations and businesses can get involved, including monetary donations to the Long Beach Community Foundation’s Migrant Children Support Fund and book donations to select Long Beach hotels and Long Beach Public Library locations, provided by the City of Long Beach in partnership with the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.

On April 6, the Long Beach City Council unanimously approved to allow the City Manager to negotiate a partnership agreement with HHS to support their national efforts to temporarily house and safely reconnect unaccompanied children arriving at the southern border. 

The shelter will not impact COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic operations currently underway at the Convention Center. Costs for the operation and use of the facility are being covered by the federal government. Shelter operations will conclude by August 2, 2021, so that existing scheduled functions and events may resume at the Convention Center.

Details regarding the HHS Unaccompanied Children Program are available online.

A copy of the contract for services will be made available on longbeach.gov/migrantchildren shortly, pending the redaction of any personal and security information.

For the latest information on COVID-19, with details on all that the City of Long Beach is doing to keep our residents safe, visit longbeach.gov/COVID19 and follow @LongBeachCity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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