Caretakers get hints on caring for children seized in Texas

By The Associated Press

From Amarillo to Houston, children from the polygamist ranch in west Texas are settling into new surroundings, and caretakers are getting cultural pointers on how to deal with them -- such as no television, no movies, no radio and nothing red.

"The color 'RED' is not acceptable for clothing," said a memo that the Texas Department of Child Protective Services sent to caretakers for the 462 children seized this month from the Yearning for Zion ranch after a tip about possible abuse.

Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe red is reserved for Jesus Christ, according to officials in Utah. So workers at the children's shelter in San Antonio spent part of the week taking anything red off the walls and floors.

Another memo from state officials to caretakers describes the children's dietary and clothing needs.

Some officials said they were sensitive to potential culture shock among the children, who led a sheltered life on the ranch near Eldorado.

"Help them with self-esteem, guilty feelings, shame, confusion about mainstream culture, and learning basic decision making skills," said another memo to caretakers.

The last busloads of children from the group left the San Angelo Coliseum on Friday, headed for shelters and group homes around the state. One bus had to stop several times on the way to Brazoria County, south of Houston, because some of the children got motion sickness.

"Some of them probably haven't even ridden in a vehicle before," state trooper Dial King told the Houston Chronicle.

Near Amarillo, Cal Farley's Boys Ranch took in 18 more boys on Friday, bringing to 72 the number of FLDS children under its care. Dan Adams, chief executive of the ranch, said staffers got pointers to help them understand the dress, food and cultural ways of the children.

"We've been working very closely with Child Protective Services in trying to understand and be aware of whatever unique circumstances these children came out of and what they are used to," Adams told the Amarillo Globe-News. "Obviously, anybody (who) is going to be directly involved with the kids, we want them to be as competent and educated as they can be on those things."

A judge awarded custody of the children to the state after child-welfare officials argued they could be in danger in Eldorado, where officials say young girls were forced to marry much older men and bear their children.

State officials hope that removing the children far from the ranch may make them more willing to speak freely about even such basic things as their names and ages.

"The children are in a position to no longer on a daily basis be influenced by adults who have encouraged a code of silence," said Darrell Azar, a spokesman for Child Protective Services. "Now that they are away from that influence they may become more comfortable, and we will have a better chance of learning the truth."