Free Range Parents Found Responsible For Child Neglect (VIDEO)

Montgomery County parents who were under investigation for letting their kids walk home from a park were found responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect.

A letter from The Montgomery County Child Protective Services, dated Feb. 20, stated that Danielle and Alexander Meitiv are responsible for child neglect and would receive a separate notice regarding their right to appeal.

“I got the letter and I started to cry … We are going to appeal,” Danielle Meitiv said.

The case dates back to Dec. 20 when police officers picked up Meitiv’s children, ages 10 and 6, after someone reported them walking to their home unaccompanied from Woodside Park in Silver Spring.

According to an email from Paula Tolson, interim deputy director of the Communications Office of the Maryland Department of Human Resources, officials can not comment on the case.

Tolson, however, shared information about the process and procedures during a child neglect investigation. In the email, Tolson wrote the investigation consists of interviews with the family, children and other significant individuals and a review of appropriate documents. There are three possible findings: ruled out, unsubstantiated and indicated.

In the Meitiv’s case, the ruling was unsubstantiated, which means “when the agency has some information supporting a finding of child neglect, or has what appear to be credible reports that are at odds with each other, or does not have sufficient information to reach a more definitive conclusion.”

Danielle said they were shocked when they received the letter, but added that she has no intention of changing their parenting approach. She does worry what might happen if CPS gets another call.

“We are paying legal fees. We can’t afford this … It’s just a horrible inhuman process,” she said.

The Meitivs met with CPS officials on Jan. 26. At that time, Danielle said the meeting was “frustratingly inconclusive. The case worker outlined CPS’ policies and procedures for us and that was about it. We don’t think anything bad will happen but we didn’t get the closure we were hoping for.”

CPS officials said their role is to follow up on any and all complaints that come from the Child Protective Service hotline.

The Meitivs believe in the “free-range” parenting philosophy where children are allowed to build independence by making their own choices and experiencing the world on their own. In this case,  walking about a mile from a playground to home.

“My children are outside right now… It’s a beautiful day,” Danielle said.

Danielle added that the ruling “unsubstantiated child neglect” is difficult to understand. She and her husband do not feel they neglect their children.

“It’s a traumatic process for the family,” she said.

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Aline Barros

About Aline Barros

Aline Barros is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at and on Twitter at @AlineBarros2.


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