Waco compound kids under care of officials

April 22, 1993|By Newsday

Eleven children orphaned by the inferno at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, are under the care of Texas child-welfare officials who hope to place them in their relatives' homes within the next few weeks. Ten others already have been placed with relatives, according to officials.

Meanwhile, the outpouring of support -- from the room filled with Teddy bears and U.S. Treasury bonds that are accumulating in a Waco office building, to the incessant phone calls nationwide from people offering to adopt or serve as foster parents -- has intensified daily, officials said.

"The kids probably aren't aware of all the love that's been shown them from around the country, because we don't want it to look like Christmas in Waco right now," said Stewart Davis, a spokesman for the state Department of Protective and Regulatory Services in Austin, Texas. "But all over the country, there appears to be concern."

The children will be experiencing some major transitions over the next several weeks, Mr. Davis said, and the agency is trying to make life assimple as possible for them.

Since leaving the compound in late February and early March when they were released by cult leader David Koresh, the children -- ranging in age from 5 months to 12 years and carrying only few treasures -- have lived in a residential group home in Waco.

They do not go to school and are not permitted to play in area parks. Their guardians, state-subsidized professionals, work in shifts, as do their therapists and caseworkers.

The children have schooling several hours a day with brief rest periods and chores, much as they did while living in the compound. They are allowed to play in a yard behind the home.

Many of the children have strong alliances with one another, Mr. David said, and that has helped them cope with the crisis.

"There are children in the home who are very upset and there are children with whom the news has not really registered," Mr. Davis said.

Mr. Davis said that the children are warming to the people at the home. "I'm not ready to say bonding is taking place, but the kids are settling into life with their house parents," he said.

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