A rather shocking child custody story unfolded in southeast Texas last spring, when officials with Child Protective Services discovered two young children living virtually unsupervised in an old school bus that had been converted to makeshift living quarters.
For those unfamiliar with the story, a postal worker in Montgomery County observed the two young and seemingly unkempt children on multiple occasions and finally contacted CPS in March.
CPS officials were immediately dispatched to the scene and discovered that the two children, ages 12 and 6, were indeed living virtually unsupervised on an old school bus situated on a trash-strewn lot. They were taken into protective custody and later placed with a foster family.
A subsequent investigation revealed that the children's parents were Mark and Sherrie S., both of whom were then serving 18 months in separate federal institutions for conspiring to embezzle money from the victims of Hurricane Ike, which struck the southern U.S. back in 2008.
Prior to their incarceration, the parents had arranged for the children to be supervised by an aunt, who apparently became overwhelmed and neglected to do so.
Mark and Sherrie S. were ultimately released from prison and reunited with their children in September. Both parents -- who are currently under CPS supervision -- were understandably distraught over what had happened to their children.
"There was a lot of emotional and mental anguish put on the kids," said Sherrie S. "And that's what we were upset about."
According to agency officials, Mark and Sherrie S. have fully complied with all aspects of their care plan (therapy, evaluations, etc.), and staff members are pleased with their progress and commitment.
"They're doing really well and the family is doing really well," said one official. "The staff is very proud of them."
CPS officials also indicated that while the circumstances in which the children had lived weren't appropriate, there was some degree of sensationalism by the media about the actual conditions of the property.
Specifically, while the school bus looked rather run-down from the outside, it been renovated and furnished on the inside, complete with hot and cold water, a bathroom and air conditioning. (The family originally moved it to Texas from Louisiana after their home was destroyed in Hurricane Ike and intended for it to serve as a temporary home while they built on the lot where it was situated.)
Mark and Sherrie S. are scheduled for a hearing this week, although it is unlikely that they will be awarded unrestricted custody of their kids.
Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog ...
To learn more about child custody, visitation or parental rights, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
WTOP, "Texas couple with 2 kids on old bus makes progress," Jan. 21, 2013
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