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Placement of Foster Care Children With Members of the Peoples Temple

Published: May 31, 1979. Publicly Released: May 31, 1979.
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A review was conducted of the placement of foster children with Peoples Temple members. In particular, the examination was to determine the circumstances of such placements, the amount of Federal funds utilized for the placement and/or support of these children, circumstances under which foster children were removed from the United States to Guyana, whether any foster children died in Jonestown, and whether any Federal funds were diverted from their statutory purpose. Of the 337 children identified at the time of the tragedy in November 1978, 19 children were in foster care status at some time prior to their emigration to Guyana. The passport applications of 18 children were reviewed and indicated that 12 of the foster children were leaving for a vacation for a period of from 20 days to 6 months. Of the remaining six children, three were reported leaving for mission work, one for human services work, and two did not indicate a reason for leaving. Only 1 of the 19 children was still in foster care at the time of departure. In the early 1970's, children were being placed in unlicensed homes of Peoples Temple members. During the same period, Peoples Temple attorneys and members began filing petitions for guardianship of children for Peoples Temple members. Payments to the foster care parents of the 19 children totaled about $75,000 for the total time period that the children were in foster care, including $50,000 paid to foster parents associated with the Peoples Temple. Of the 19 children, 18 are listed on the Department of State list of those deceased.

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