(SILVER SPRING, Md.) — Maryland authorities, including Child Protective Services, are investigating possible child neglect allegations, police said, after two children were again found at a park without adult supervision.
The kids, ages 6 and 10, were taken into custody Sunday in Silver Spring.
Their parents, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, are proponents of what’s known as “free-range parenting,” a philosophy that encourages children to explore their independence.
Maryland law says that children younger than 8 must be under the care of a person who is at least 13, according to Child Protective Services.
Here is the account of what happened Sunday, according to a Montgomery County Police news release:
4:58 p.m.: The emergency call center received a report to check the welfare of two children.
5:01 p.m.: An officer arrived and found the children.
5:16 p.m.: The officer contacted state Child Protective Services (CPS).
7:18 p.m.: “A decision was made” to take the children to CPS offices in Rockville, Maryland, police said. The officer was also told CPS would contact the parents.
“Due to the serious nature of a Child Protective Services investigation and concern for the welfare of the children, they cannot be returned home until their safety can be assured,” according to the news release.
The children told the officer they were hungry and thirsty; they said they had last eaten hamburgers between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., police said Monday.
“The officer had his personal lunch with him as well and was giving it to the children when the older child advised that he and his sister had food allergies,” according to the news release. “At that point the officer did not want to provide any food item that might cause an adverse reaction to the children so he did not give them his lunch as planned.”
Sunday night, Danielle Meitiv posted on Facebook that she and her husband were allowed to bring their kids home after signing a “safety plan.”
Monday morning, Danielle Meitiv posted that the “police coerced our children into the back of a patrol car, telling them they would drive them home. They kept the kids trapped there for three hours, without notifying us, before dropping them at the Crisis Center, and holding them there without dinner for another two and a half hours.”
“We finally got home at 11 pm and the kids slept in our room because we were all exhausted and terrified,” she wrote.
“The Meitivs are rightfully outraged,” the couple’s attorney, Matthew Dowd, said in a statement.
He added: “We must ask ourselves how we reached the point where a parent’s biggest fear is that government officials will literally seize our children off the streets as they walk in our neighborhood. The Meitivs intend to fully vindicate their rights as parents and to prevent this from happening to their children again.”
Earlier this year, the Meitivs were “found responsible for unsubstantiated child neglect” by state Child Protective Services after they were investigated for allowing the children to walk home alone from the neighborhood park about one mile from their home, authorities said.
No criminal charges were filed and a Maryland State Department of Human Resources spokeswoman would only say at the time that the case would serve as “a point of reference that will be used in any future decision.”
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