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Records: Citations, Fines At Southwest Key Programs In Metro Phoenix

A government-contracted nonprofit with services that include sheltering undocumented children racked up $2,750 dollars in state fines at a half-dozen Valley locations in the last couple years.

On Christmas Day 2016, staff at a Southwest Key Programs facility in Glendale restrained a child for a total of 37 minutes, which was a violation of state administrative code, according to records from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In 2017, state records show investigators found staff at a Southwest Key location in Mesa were hired without fingerprint clearance cards proving they’d passed a background check.

“To not have current fingerprinting is of a concern,” said Susie Huhn, CEO of Casa de los Ninos, a Tucson-based child welfare and behavioral health organization. “‘Cause you just don't know what kind of people you’re hiring to work with kids.”

A handful of Southwest Key locations in the Valley were fined for not applying on time to get re-licensed, records show.

A spokesperson for Southwest Key released a prepared statement.

“Southwest Key is a licensed, around-the-clock childcare facility,” the statement said. “We adhere to strict compliance standards and take each deficiency seriously by self-reporting them to invite external investigations, as well as perform our own internal investigations. We operate high-quality, licensed childcare shelters and adhere to strict licensing standards. Southwest Key has been recognized by the U.N. Human Rights Council for the work we do.”

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.