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Inspections Lead To Increased State Oversight Of Southwest Key Programs

Arizona is pursuing fines against an operator of shelters for immigrant children after recent inspections revealed problems with employee background checks.

At a Southwest Key Programs facility in Phoenix, state health inspectors found that one employee worked for 20 months with an expired fingerprint clearance card. At a shelter in Tucson, inspectors found eight employees were late to apply to have their backgrounds checked.

State Rep. Kelli Butler has been pushing for more oversight of shelters for immigrant kids, and she’s glad the state plans to issue fines.

“It’s justified to do that,” Butler said. “I am concerned that the fines are pretty low.”

Southwest Key has until mid-September to make sure all Arizona workers have valid fingerprint clearance cards. It has agreed to let the state do unannounced visits for the next year.

A spokesman for the Texas-based nonprofit said it fully supports expanded oversight and looks forward to working with the state.

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.