Wednesday, two boys, aged 3 and 4 were found wandering barefoot and alone in Schnur Park, reports KTRK Houston. The people that found the boys called police, who transported the boys to Children's Protective Services (CPS) on Chimeny Rock.
It was later discovered that the two boys had been taken by good friend of the family "G Money," according to KHOU. The boys' grandmother, Patricia Jones, said that the family friend usually takes the boys to the park but that on Wednesday, he "drank too much beer," according to KTRK.
CPS was prepared to take custody of the boys, but returned them to their two different families while it sorts out the situation, reports KTRK. This raises the issue of what would have made CPS keep custody of the children.
CPS is a branch of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. It cares for children and investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. If it determines that a child is in immediate danger while it investigates it will take custody of the child.
Texas' Family Code provides that the definition of neglect is leaving a child in a place where there is a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, with no intention to return. DFPS presents a group of factors that a parent can use to determine whether a child is old enough to be left alone.
The factors are: the age, emotional maturity and capability of the child; the layout and safety of the home or play area; the neighborhood circumstances; the child's ability to respond to changing conditions; and whether the child has a disability.
Here, 3- and 4-year-olds usually do not have the emotional maturity or ability to respond to changing conditions to be on their own. Further, the park can be either a safe place or a very dangerous place.
There is no wonder that CPS is investigating this case more, because there is no clear neglect of the children. It is more likely that this was an accident, as the family stated, and the toddlers found barefoot in the park were probably having a fine time until the police came.
- Hunting for a Houston Family Attorney? (FindLaw)
- Texas: Highest Number of Child Abuse Fatalities in America (Houston Family Law Blog)
- Morin Family Child Found Eight Years Later (Houston Family Law Blog)