Free-Range Kids

CPS Decision in Maryland Parents Case: They Are 'Responsible' For 'Unsubstantiated Neglect.' Huh?

Welcome to the intersection of common sense and bureaucratic craziness

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The long-awaited decision from Montgomery County Child Protective Services has arrived at the home of Danielle and Alex Meitiv, and it finds them "responsible" for "unsubstantiated child neglect" for letting their kids walk outside, unsupervised. If that decision makes no sense to you, either—how can parents be responsible for something that is unsubstantiated?—welcome to the place where common sense crashes into bureaucratic craziness.

It's a mess.

Although the investigation is "closed," Donna St. George at the Washington Post reports that:

CPS will keep a file on the family for at least five years and leaves open the question of what happens if the Meitiv children — ages 10 and 6 — get reported again for walking without adult supervision.

Why keep a file on a family that was not found negligent? That just doesn't sound closed enough for my liking. Especially since the walk was only a crime in the Law & Order-addled minds of the authorities.

"Shots will be fired!"

You'll recall that on a December day in Silver Spring, MD, the Meitivs allowed their children, ages 6 and 10, to walk a mile home from the park. A busybody spied the unaccompanied kids and called 911. The cops scooped up the kids, drove them home, and threatened the dad that "shots will be fired!" if he didn't comply with their demand to see his ID.

Later, when a Child Protective Services rep came to the home, the dad was threatened again: Sign this safety plan for your kids or they will be taken away. (He signed.)

Guess where the kids are NOW!

The mom was out of town while this transpired but she and her husband are on the same page—even though this was the second time the Meitiv kids were stopped for walking outside. (Here's my story about the first time—reported only here at Reason!) But as Danielle just wrote to me in an email:

"Allowing kids to be Free-Range is critical for their development. In spite of this ruling we will continue to let our kids roam (they're at the park right now!) Thankfully, CPS harassment like this is NOT common. The best way to make sure it doesn't happen is to make Free-Ranging as common as it was when we were kids."

Amen.

NEXT: The New York City Teachers Union Opened its Own Charter School. Disaster Ensued.

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  1. Guilty regardless of what can or cannot be proved. Due process was fun while it lasted.

  2. finds them “responsible” for “unsubstantiated child neglect”

    I’ve had a “Fascism Has Come To America” bumpersticker. Perhaps I need a “Kafka Has Come To America” one now?

    1. Kafka came to America when the FDR regime won a case claiming that growing a crop on your own land for your own use is “interstate commerce”.

      -jcr

      1. But it could have been sold on the black market!!!!111!!!oneone!!!

        1. ^^ RACIST much??!11one!!1won!1!

    2. Perhaps I need a “Kafka Has Come To America” one now?

      This latest metamorphosis of America bugs me.

      1. How long have you been waiting to trial that line?

  3. What is this Montgomery county? They should move to Balmer City. The kids have been sledding down dangerous hills here all winter and no one has paid any attention.

    1. And that’s totally unsupervised sledding.

  4. Let me explain.

    The status of “Unsubstantiated” means that you aren’t innocent, merely that they couldn’t prove you guilty. Alternately, it means that you aren’t guilty, that the party reporting you likely made up the story.

    Like Shroedinger’s Cat, your status as a child abuser will consist of a waveform encompassing both states until collapsed later by further actions do CPS.

    If they want to paint you as an abuser, they will collapse the wavefunction to the “We couldn’t prove you guilty” result. If they want to paint you as the victim of malicious ratting out, they will collapse the waveform to that direction.

    It means that once you encounter CPS – you spend the rest of your time as a parent (and possibly grandparent!) with a sword hanging over your head.

    1. It just means that no one observed their crime. So they were a wave, not a particle. Being a wave is guilt by default.

      1. This is the funniest comment I’ve read here in a while, thanks!

      2. Slit experiment

    2. And that’s entirely the point, tarran. Unaccountable bureaucrats can only have power over people once those people are in whatever system they control.

    3. So they’re going to take my kids, label me a child abuser, *and* kill my cat?

      /confused

      1. Yes, dogs they leave for the cops.

      2. OK, made me laugh!

        … Hobbit

    4. It means that once you encounter CPS – you spend the rest of your time as a parent (and possibly grandparent!) with a sword hanging over your head.

      Damocles would kind of like it back sooner than that.

    5. Sounds like time for someone to take up their own sword – and show CPS what happens when they stick their idiocy into other peoples’ business.

  5. This sort of thing frosts my derriere. Is there further legal recourse available in the courts for this sort of chicanery on the part of CPS?

    1. The courts love CPS.

      There is very little objective evidence in cases involving child custody. Often the parents are lying. The child’s testimony is unreliable and it can be very hard to separate fantasy from reality. There are few if any reliable records to consult.

      So CPS does a half-assed investigation, and the courts glom onto it, because they can point to the CPS investigator as being objective and unbiased.

      OF course this is bullshit – I have had the misfortune of periodic involvement with DCF for over five years now, and in every investigation involving my family, the bias of the DCF worker (or the social workers providing them info) carried the day – often when the worker was asserting things contradicted by records or objective evidence.

      In the 1600’s the people who get jobs with CPS/DCF now would be earning their board as witchsmellers going after old widows.

      1. There doesn’t appear to be any factual dispute here though. Everyone agrees the parents let their kids walk home alone.

      2. So CPS does a half-assed investigation, and the courts glom onto it, because they can point to the CPS investigator as being objective and unbiased.

        CPS are kind of the Drug Dogs of child abuse. All they need to do is “alert” on you and the court will sign off.

  6. There is no law anymore. There’s just the rules. The rules state that if you are not politically connected, you are guilty of whatever the politically connected say you are guilty of. If you are politically connected, the rules don’t apply.

  7. What’s “unsubstantiated” here? That term normally refers to a situation where the fact-finder didn’t have enough evidence to confirm the allegations were true. But the parents freely admit they let their kids walk alone and, even if they didn’t, the police officer that picked them up would be more than enough to “substantiate” the allegation. The only issue seems to be whether letting your kids walk home alone is “neglect,” and that’s a legal issue, not a factual one.

    1. What’s the statute number for the law in Montgomery Co that says your kids cannot walk alone?

      1. There likely isn’t one, which is why CPS hiding behind some non-existent evidentiary issue.

  8. get reported again for walking without adult supervision.

    Oh, to have the money to be able to hire a private investigator to put the CPS folks involved in this under surveillance, so I could file complaints when their kids go “walking without adult supervision”.

    1. Put it on kickstarter. I’d throw in fifty bucks.

      -jcr

    2. Can’t we just hire the person who reported the Meitivs.

      1. What makes you so sure it wasn’t a CPS employee or family member that phoned in the bullshit report?

        1. I’m not. What, you think that’ll stay their hand in ratting out another to get ahead?

          We’re dealing with a very sick mind here.

    3. Of course, they’ll never be convicted and probably not even ever be charged with anything. They’re part of the protected class. But it still might make for some good stories here on Reason.

  9. Every parent in my neigborhood growing up would have been in prison.

    1. Mine too. Letting your kid walk alone, illegal yard sales, the entire rap list of things.

    2. Think of what would happen to the parents of the kids in The Cat In The Hat

  10. Sign this safety plan for your kids or they will be taken away.

    It is very well established in law that anything signed under duress is not legally binding. I hope the Meitiv family sues the shit out of the pigs and the bureaucrats for threatening them.

    -jcr

    1. It is very well established in law that anything signed under duress is not legally binding

      Is it well established when the people making you sign something under duress are a branch of the same group that establishes the law?

      I think it’ll be a cold day in hell before the Meitiv family gets any recompense.

  11. Why keep a file on a family that was not found negligent?

    If the government can’t keep files on its people, what’s the point of having government?

    1. Indeed. And those had jolly well better be *electronic* files so they can be shared with other agencies and hacked.

    2. That is going on your permanent record young man.

  12. FTFA:An unsubstantiated finding is typically made when CPS has some information supporting a conclusion of child neglect, or when seemingly credible reports are at odds with each other, or when there is insufficient information for a more definitive conclusion

    Emphases added. FFS, just find *everyone* “responsible for unsubstantiated neglect” and be done with it!

  13. “Allowing kids to be Free-Range is critical for their development. In spite of this ruling we will continue to let our kids roam (they’re at the park right now!)

    Quick! What’s the 911 number for Montgomery County?

    1. Sorry, you have the wrong number. This is 9-1-2.

      1. Four cylinders instead of 6. A bit agricultural at times but fun to toss around.

        1. Less rear weight bias.

    2. In Montgomery County it is 666. Obviously.

  14. Again – I am sooooooo glad our kids are all adults. Of course, poor Daughter #2 just had our Granddaughter #1 (9 mos old now!), so she’ll face the hell of current day state idiocy.

    We’re already working with them to help pay for private elementary school. Everyone in my family, and all my kids, went to public schools through HS. Not Grandkid #1, if we can help it.

    What a shame it’s come to this. Fuck the government and all its bureaucracies and the petty tyrants who work for either of them.

  15. “Your Honor, my client pleads ‘not guilty by reason of unsubstantiated insanity’.”

    “Council knows very well there is no such thing. The court rules ‘responsible for unsubstantiated guilt”.

  16. It’s Dick Wolf’s world and we are just visiting. Wish the public had embraced Sherwood Schwartz’s vision instead.

    1. Dick Wolf and Sherwood Schwartz? How the hell are those not pr0n names?

  17. If I were them I would move immediately or at least file a lawsuit to make clear that it’s their parenting is completely lawful. Making a stand is great but if it means risking losing your kids to the state I can’t think of any circumstance where that would be worth it.

  18. Free-range kids may be a bit more expensive, but I find them tastier than the factory-raised ones.

    1. That joke is fowl.

  19. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing,
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  20. Maybe it’s time the family move from Maryland?

    Something tells me now that they’re in the system they’re going to be harassed.

    On the way out they can shove a pie in the face of the neighbor who snitched on them.

    1. That was pretty much my thought: move now, do not wait, flee! Very shortly, the courts will rule that taking the children outside of their clutches is a criminal act, and then the story ends, badly.

    2. We moved from MD eight years ago and never looked back. Expensive, statist enclave full of real crime, congestion, and pollution.
      Here, you occasionally see a kid during hunting season walking along the side of the local roads carrying a long gun. Nobody gets threatened or hurt. No police get called. No schools or malls get assaulted.

      1. Sounds good, where did you go?

        1. Maine. North of Augusta.

          1. That’s exactly what I’m hoping to do, but I’m thinking of heading the opposite direction, myself. North Carolina, maybe Tennessee if I can convince my wife. The only two things Maryland has going for it are Old Bay and a cool flag.

            1. I bought Old Bay at the local Hannaford grocery store so I can put it on my fries after I put vinegar on them.

              Maine is a “shall issue” state that appears to be headed gor constitutional carry this session/b. Cheapest land east of the Mississippi and the most rural state by one metric using percentqge of folks living X distance away from an urban center. There are certainly some things that aren’t “perfect” but it is much more free than central MD.

              1. I had the great pleasure of living in western Maine and northern NH for most of my life. It gets a little sparse north of Augusta but it’s still a great place to live, provided you have a good jerb. Now I’m outside of Boston and I miss everything about being home except the lack of delivery food. We were tossed out of our houses to wander hill and dale from morning to dinner, and the one or two times we really needed an adult there was one there in minutes. All you had to do was yell.

                1. Finding work is one of the bigger challenges.

                  A Chipotle just opened in Bangor!

    3. Or a barbecue fork.

  21. Roll that beautiful bean footage?

    http://www.AnonStuff.tk

    1. Yes, roll me, roll me!

  22. I live in the same county and have been here for 40 years since I was 7 years old. Used to walk everywhere go run and play in the woods, we enjoyed it. This county and state have gone crazy with regulations and I soon will be moving out.

    In reality, isn’t the county is saying they have failed to keep it safe and wish to blame parents.

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  24. I would troll the CPS so hard if I lived there. I would call the cops every time I saw a kid outside without an adult. 30 Feet? Nope, thats unsupervised. Force the system to respond to everything. Yeah, it won’t make the CPS folks lighten up, but the parents who get pulled thru the wringer will be pissed. They will call their political masters and demand change.

  25. “CPS will keep a file on the family”

    Child Protective Stasi.

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  28. If this irritates you, send a message to Debbie Ramelmeier, the Acting Executive Director of Social Services Administration in Maryland.

    https://www.facebook.com/debbie.ramelmeier

  29. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I’ve been doing,
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