Devon Township residents push back against plans for youth migrant detention center

Residents of a Devon township in Chester County became furious when they discovered plans are in the works to build a youth migrant detention center on the site of a former school for children with developmental disabilities.

The Devereaux Foundation was awarded a $14 million contract by the Dept. of Health and Human Services to provide care and shelter for migrant children who were separated from their parents at the border. The plan is to house up to 50 children ages 5-12 at its building on Highland Road. 

Residents say they were told new homes would be built on the site of the school, and had no idea the building was being repurposed until neighbors saw renovations being done.

Meanwhile, the township say it needs no new zoning approval to open the detention center. A Devereaux representative says the center will be here to help the children, not keep them as prisoners.

"The goal of these programs is to reunite the children with their sponsor in the United States, so this is not a detention program for the children," Devereaux official Leah Yaw said. 

During a heated meeting with Devon residents Monday, Yaw and officials tried to calm nerves about the center. She says Devereaux did not do a good job communicating their plans and will maintian open lines of communication going forward.

Residents are now planning to file an appeal with the zoning board to prevent the center from opening. They say the have had problems with Devereaux patients leaving the facility and entering their homes in the past.