A Texas family made a shed into a home for its six children. Though not intended for residential living, the resourceful parents put in a wood-burning heater, an air-conditioning unit and a compost toilet. Water was gathered from a spigot nearby. It wasn't the optimum of living arrangements, but it was that or live with their children on the streets.
Child Protective Services spokesman Gwen Carter said Leonard's children were removed because the shed is an unsafe environment. The agency does not remove children from their parents' custody based on economic circumstances, she told the Houston Chronicle.
"You could live in a mansion and be in an unsafe living environment," Carter said. "It's not the place as much as it was the circumstances."
CPS uses removal only as a last resort, Carter said. Caseworkers try to help parents in need find ways to provide safe living conditions for their children.
Leonard said, though, caseworkers made only one three-hour visit to her home and removed the children immediately. The family had outfitted the shed with a wood-burning heater, an air-conditioning unit and a compost toilet. They fetched water from a nearby spigot.
"They didn't ask us if we needed help or anything," Leonard said. "They just said, 'You can stay here, but your children can't.'"
You can read the heartbreaking story in full over here.
Now, I know there are no photos included with this story, nor was there any video. We don't know, except what we are told, what the living conditions were like. But, from the sounds of this article, this family was doing its very best to get by. Would the kids be better off in a shelter? In a crime-ridden housing project? Are they better now, without their parents?
It does seem a bit like the CPS is punishing this family for being poor, not for abuse. Or even unsafe conditions. Had there been complaints filed by neighbors or school teachers? And what will become of these children now?
There seem to be so many children overlooked by CPS, this removal seems extreme. Or is it?
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this below.
[Photo by rik]