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Everything you need to know about the temporary migrant shelter in Long Beach

The Long Beach Convention Center became a temporary migrant shelter on Thursday, April 22, for children who were found at the border without a parent.

But what exactly does that mean for the children, the facility and the city? Here’s everything you need to know:

How many kids will be there?

Officials said anywhere between a dozen and 150 children could arrive on Thursday, and up to 1,000 kids — mostly young girls ages 5 and up — could be housed there overall.

How long will the shelter operate?

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has said the shelter will close Aug. 2 at the latest so as not to interfere with conventions that are already on the books. But the same children won’t be there the whole time; federal officials are aiming to transition kids from the shelter to living with family members or sponsors within seven-to-10 days of arriving at the Convention Center, though some cases may be more complex and take longer.

Who’s running the shelter?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is operating the shelter, though they have contracted with other organizations to offer specific services on site. UCLA, for example, has been tapped to provide health screenings and medical care.

What conditions will the kids be living in?

Each child will have his or her own bed in a designated sleeping area and those areas will be divided into groups of 30 kids each. They will also be provided with showers, three meals a day, snacks, three-to-four hours of classroom time daily, medical services, mental health services, indoor and outdoor recreation areas and supplies like toys, books and clothes.

Why does the government need more shelters?

There has been a recent surge of unaccompanied minors, fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, who have sought to cross the southern border. Border authorities encountered nearly 19,000 children without a parent in March, an all-time monthly high and about double the number that were found in February. The reasons behind the surge are complex, including a hurricane that hit Central America in November that exacerbated poverty in the region. But the Biden administration’s policies — including a decision to allow unaccompanied minors to seek asylum amid the coronavirus pandemic, unlike other migrants — have also played a role.

Why Long Beach?

Federal officials have not said why they sought Long Beach specifically for a shelter, but the city is not alone in temporarily converting its facilities to help address the humanitarian crisis. In Southern California, San Diego is also operating a shelter at its Convention Center, and another one will likely open up at the Pomona Fairplex. HHS has also opened nearly a dozen similar sites in Texas, as well as facilities in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

How can I help?

Community members, local organizations and businesses can sign up to volunteer at the shelter by visiting an online portal. Businesses and organizations providing services that could be useful at the site — including meals, education, mental health support, legal services and language translation — can complete a form to demonstrate their interest in helping, and individuals interested in volunteering can also fill out a separate form.

Folks who want to make a tax-deductible donation to the Migrant Children Support Fund can mail a check, payable to “Long Beach Community Foundation” and with “Migrant Children Support Fund” in the memo, to Long Beach Community Foundation, 400 Oceangate, Suite 800, Long Beach, CA 90802. People can also donate with a credit card online at longbeachcf.org/donate/migrant-children-support-fund.

The city’s portal can be found at longbeach.gov/pages/city-news/lb-humanitarian-family-reunification-efforts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Source: Orange County Register

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