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Parents lose child custody over living arrangements

An unusual child custody case has gone before a West Coast court after a family was found living in extreme poverty. Three children were removed from the home, and the parents placed in jail. While the parents have now been released from custody, their children still remain in the custody of the county. The court is now faced with determining whether the family's living arrangements constitute neglect, which has stirred debate in Texas and across the nation.

Police came to the family's plot of desert land to investigate an unrelated matter. When they arrived, they found two parents and three children living in what was described as a small shack. A trailer on the land had been given over to the family's cats, estimated to number in the dozens. The property has no running water or electricity, and officers reported the presence of piles of trash and human feces located throughout the property.

The parents claim that they love their children, and that they have provided plenty of food and clean water for their kids. The children have adequate clothing and participate in the community, although they are homeschooled. According to the family, they are struggling to live on very little income and in an area where housing expenses are high.

The family will return to court in the coming weeks to discuss whether the parents will be able to visit with their children until this matter is decided. In the meanwhile, they are working with volunteers and exploring community resources to improve their living arrangements. As the case moves ahead, the court must determine whether these parents have made or will make decisions to improve the lives of their children. For many Texas parents, the idea that a family could lose custody of their children based on poverty is simply unacceptable. 

Source: latimes.com, "Joshua Tree couple are released from jail but still face child abuse charges", Paloma Esquivel, March 6, 2018

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