Starr Commonwealth, a non-profit social services organization located in Albion, began hosting unaccompanied migrant children earlier this month.
The first 100 children arrived on April 12. By April 16, 190 children were at the campus, according to WILX. In a statement from Starr, representatives said that the campus can host up to 240 children in its 17 cottages.
In accordance with a request from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Starr campus will provide temporary housing for the migrant children while the ACF works to unite the children either with their families or sponsors. Each child is expected to remain on the campus for 30 days or less.
“When asked to help, we said yes–immediately and enthusiastically–just as our founder, Floyd Starr, would want us to do,” said Starr President and CEO Elizabeth Carey in a statement. “We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the Albion community and beyond, with so many kind and generous organizations and people reaching out with offers of help and messages of encouragement.”
In addition to cottages, the 350-acre campus has a gymnasium, cafeteria, school buildings, chapel, ball fields, track and a lakeside park.
Starr Commonwealth previously provided residential services for children up until September of last year. Following the cease in residents and 24-hour staff, Albion College Campus Safety was employed to staff the campus.
“In September, they stopped providing residential services, which meant that their campus was empty at night,” said Ken Snyder, director of campus safety and associate dean of students, via email. “Their campus is fairly large and has a number of buildings, and so they wanted to continue to have a staff presence for security reasons. They reached out to the College, and we entered into an agreement to provide that service for them.”
Starting in October 2020, Campus Safety provided staffing for the campus from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the weekend. Duties conducted by Campus Safety officers included patrolling the Starr campus, conducting property checks, managing access to the campus and addressing any suspicious or unauthorized vehicles or activity on campus.
The staffing by Campus Safety ceased on April 9, three days before the arrival of the first 100 migrant children.
Albion College and Albion College Campus Safety was not involved in the decision to shelter the unaccompanied migrant children.
While Starr Commonwealth is still determining its future once the ACF is no longer using the campus and following the end of its residential treatment services, it is possible that the College and Starr will work together in the future.
“Albion College and Starr Commonwealth have been an important part of the Albion community for more than a century,” said Snyder. “So, it would not surprise me if there was additional collaboration that benefits both organizations and our community at some point in the future.”