What's next for sect children?

News 8, Austin/June 2, 2008

All of the mothers and children placed at the Austin Children's Shelter were reunited with family Monday.

After more than a month, the last of the polygamist sect children and mothers left Austin Children's Shelter. Now many wonder what's next for the families and the shelter.

"I think we provided them a model for the outside world being safe and being warm and caring and responsive and respectful to their beliefs," the shelter's clinical director, Dr. Beth Peters, said.

At the same time, she said the children and mothers also left their mark on the shelter and its employees.

"We've grown as a staff," Peters said. "We've really pulled together to address this community's need on a large scale."

It's a community the country has been watching closely. Also, it's a community that is still under investigation.

"Investigators will, I would imagine, interview parents, interview children and talk about whatever they need to talk about to keep the investigation going. That's where we'll take it from here," Child Protective Services Spokesperson Chris Van Deusen said.

From the Austin Children's Shelter, many of the families will return to the Yearning For Zion ranch in Eldorado. Others will not return, but they cannot leave the state of Texas.

The shelter's clinical director said one thing is for sure: these kids will have a lot of questions.

"Why they were removed, what that means for their family," Peters said. "Hopefully there will be some introspective about, 'What is our family dynamic, is it healthy for children?'"

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