Approximately 65 employees were laid off today as a result of nearly a year of inaction by the City of Philadelphia, according to Mark Contento, Chief Executive Officer of VisionQuest.
“The Grace Dix Center has been empty for over eight months due to a lengthy zoning battle in the Pennsylvania courts following our request to temporarily house unaccompanied migrant children.
Our goal has always been to assist in the process of moving migrant youth out of undesirable detention facilities and into a safe and comfortable residential setting while we work to transition them into permanent U.S. residency with family members or foster families.
We never anticipated that Philadelphia, a sanctuary city, would be so resistant to our helping these migrant youth” said Contento.
“We have continued to pay all of our staff while this legal matter is being contested, but we can no longer afford to do so. It is extremely heartbreaking for us to have to layoff over 60 hardworking and dedicated Philadelphia residents because we know it will have a tremendous impact not only on our staff but on their families as well.”
The location on Old York Road in the Logan neighborhood of Philadelphia already had the proper zoning to house a youth shelter. Therefore, VisionQuest was planning to house a federally-funded temporary residential facility for unaccompanied migrant minors between the ages of 11 and 17. The facility would house up to 60 minors until they could be reunited with family members in the United States or a foster family in the area.
VisionQuest was awarded a contract in the fall of 2018 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide safe housing, education, mental health, trauma counseling, healthcare and other necessary wraparound services for unaccompanied minors with a goal of reunifying them with family and placing them in permanent homes within the United States in 30-90 days.
A comprehensive national youth services organization, VisionQuest adheres to the highest professional standards in providing innovative intervention services to at-risk youth and families.
The Tucson-based company specializes in programs for at-risk youths, including residential facilities, and currently has operations in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas.