Poverty is NOT Child Neglect: Could Changes to The Law Protect Parents? (Pt 1)

February 16, 2019 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
Man depressed in poverty
Parents who struggle with poverty are often assumed by the state to be unable to properly care for their children.

You’ve probably heard about this debate at some point – we’ve certainly covered it a number of times on our blog – because it’s a very real issue. Poverty makes it extremely difficult for parents and caregivers to provide for their kids and meet basic needs, which often gets mistaken for neglect, or bad parenting. As you can imagine, that can lead to allegations of child abuse, invasive investigations, and unnecessary criminal charges.

In the end, poor families seem to have more interactions with CPS than families who can afford all of the basics. But that means poor families are punished by the state for being poor, while middle class and wealthy families are able to avoid all that horror simply by virtue of having money. It’s just one more way that inequality persists in our society, when helping people get a leg up actually costs less and has better results.

One legislator in Washington is hoping to address this problem

Congresswoman Gwen Moore from Wisconsin believes that this is an issue that can be addressed through changes to the law. In June of 2018 she introduced H.R. 6233, the Family Poverty is Not Child Neglect Act, which aims to prohibit the use of federal funds to take children away from their parents based solely on poverty.

In introducing the bill, Congresswoman Moore shared her beliefs by explaining that poverty should never be used as a justification for tearing children away from their parents. “The vast majority of children end up in the child welfare system not because of abuse, but because of symptoms of poverty that officials categorize as neglect. Instead of separating children from their parents, we need to strengthen Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, and other essential programs that enable families to maintain basic living standards and stay together.”

So whatever happened to this bill?

It’s an interesting question, and one that we plan to unpack next time, along with a look at why this problem persists for so many impoverished families. So join us next time for the follow up discussion on poverty and the child welfare system. Until then, if you’ve been accused of child abuse or neglect for ANY reason, call our skilled and experienced defense attorneys at 866 766 5245.

We have spent decades defending families against the over-zealous reach of CPS, and against criminal charges linked to allegations of child abuse and neglect. We know exactly what these types of allegations involve, and how best to fight them. So don’t allow the state to tear your family apart. Fight back, and protect what’s most precious to you.