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The Safety Net committee will host an open house in southern Utah this week for those interested in becoming host families for an increasing number of people leaving or being kicked out of the polygamous sect led by Warren Jeffs.
"Hopefully we can get some more people signed up ... It's been a critical problem in St. George; we just don't have any place for kids to be," said Jean Goode, a case manager for Safety Net. The group was started by the Utah attorney general and works to connect people from Utah's polygamous communities to social services.
Typically about 10 to 20 people seek some form of support after leaving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints each year, Goode said.
This year has been tumultuous for the sect: Jeffs excommunicated dozens of men before being sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two underage wives, and sect leaders introduced a newly tightened set of rules for behavior.
All that has meant aid workers are seeing more young people and some families leaving the group. Though Goode said she has found places to live for everyone who needs help, "I'm worried about having more homes for anyone else who comes out."
People who want to volunteer will undergo a background check, a home visit and answer a questionnaire. If they end up hosting a minor, they will have temporary guardianship.
The open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the dining hall of Cottontown Village, 41 N. 300 West, in Washington. For more information, call Goode at 435-313-0034.