Homeless Woman Arrested For Leaving Kids In Her Car During Job Interview

Well, this is sad as hell:

Shanesha Taylor, a woman from Scottsdale, Arizona, is homeless. So when she got asked to come in for a job interview last Thursday, she must have been excited by the prospect. But when you’re homeless, there isn’t always an easy way to take an hour off from watching your kids to be at an interview. That’s how Taylor, 35, wound up losing her children to Child Protective Service — and losing out on the potential job.

Taylor was charged with two felony counts of child abuse for leaving her six-month-old and two-year-old in a car with the windows cracked last Thursday for at least 45 minutes as she sat in an interview for a potential job. She told officers that she was homeless, so she couldn’t leave her children in the house, and she had no one else to watch them.

Taylor was released from jail early this morning, thanks in part to a local Scottsdale woman who set up a fund to raise money for Taylor’s bail. “I’m just a 24 year old girl struggling like Shanesha,” she writes on the fundraising page.

“It’s reasonable to turn the lens back on us,” Shahera Hyatt, Project Director for the California Homeless Youth Project, told ThinkProgress. “What did we do to not help her find childcare when she had that appointment?”

…[Arizona] has cut 40 percent of its total child care budget, $81 million, which led to an estimated 33,000 children who would otherwise be eligible for subsidized care to go without it. (By the numbers, that’s less than California — but Arizona’s population is about one fifth of the Golden State’s.) Between 2012 and 2013, there was a decrease in the number of children served for every single child care program in the state except for Child Protective Services.

But even when child care programs are available, the system to help out parents like Taylor isn’t always responsive enough. “There’s not really a great infrastructure to provide things like that, like child care. Mom got an interview this week? She might be on a waiting list for a really long time. She can’t do it at the last minute,” Hyatt said.

I honestly have no idea what I would have done if it were me in this situation. Leaving a six-month old baby in a car does not seem ideal, obviously, but neither do unemployment and homelessness. I want to say leaving the kids with another person would have been better, but if you don’t have someone you can trust? In some ways that would be even riskier, if not more ‘acceptable’ and non-criminal. And of course we can speculate all we want about what we would have done or what would have been best, but the reality is the situation sucks. As Think Progress points out, securing childcare is just one of many hurdles facing homeless people who are looking for work. Add to that an internet connection, transportation, a place to put their belongings, then having an ID or birth certificate, and it all starts to feel like one big trap.

Photo: Ian Lamont

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7 Comments / Post A Comment

DebtOrAlive (#5,233)

Yet another article that convinces me that kids are just not in the cards for me. (This statement in no way, shape, or form should be construed as one of those awful “she shouldn’t had kids” finger-wags.)

But I can barely take care of one 20-something adult (i.e. Me). Two fragile mini-humans with ravenous appetites who need to be re-clothed every year? No thanks, bruh.

Meaghano (#529)

@DebtOrAlive I had a dream the other night where my parenting strategy was to leave my kid in a hotel room for the day — worse: in the mini-fridge — and visit it once a day for feedings.

xenu01 (#4,239)

@Meaghano That is pretty much what he does at the end of Paris, Texas. That whole movie was pretty much wtf but especially that.

xenu01 (#4,239)

They charged her with two felonies and her name is all over the paper. Meanwhile, while she may be out of jail now, the problem that put her there in the first place is still a problem. Wonder if she will have trouble getting a job?

Meaghano (#529)

@xenu01 Right she’s out of jail but it’s not like the charges are dropped.

There’s a memoir out there that deals with this situation. Divorced mom of three can’t get welfare or help while living in Maine, so she works nights as a waitress and has her kids sleep in the car out back. I really enjoyed the book even if it is really frustrating at times. The author makes a great point, admitting that she has made mistakes in the past, but do she and her children have to pay for them forever?
http://www.amazon.com/Without-Net-Middle-Homeless-America/dp/0143036785

@fo (#839)

What is *outrageously* appalling to me is that a supposed advocate for the homeless was quoted saying:

‘She is probably “not an evil, criminal, bad woman,” Hyatt added. “She is just trying to do the right thing.”’

Um, hooooooooooooolllllllllllllllllleeeeeeeeeee shiiiiiiiiiiiite! “Probably” not??? Because she made a poor choice in impossible circumstances, she moves up to “probably not *evil*”. WOW!

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