Young girl left unattended, wandering streets raises concerns of child neglect
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — The story of five year-old Eileen from San Elizario, who was left alone to wander the streets barefoot and dehydrated Thursday afternoon, is raising concerns about child neglect.
Eileen's 23 year-old sister, who was supposed to be watching her, admitted to Sheriff's Deputies that she let the little girl wander off by herself. Eileen remains in Child Protective Services (CPS).
In cases like Eileen's, CPS has the right to intervene and take her away from the parents, while the case is investigated, to see whether or not she is safe to return home.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) says a child is considered "neglected" if the caregiver fails to provide the food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain the life or health of the child.
According to Sheriff's Deputies, a person could possibly face criminal charges for child neglect.
In the case of Eileen, the investigation continues and charges are pending.
"We just want families to make sure that they're leaving their children with people who are, you know, qualified and capable of caring for the child, and to realize just how important the safety of that child is and that's the number one priority, particularly if they're young children," said Paul Zimmerman, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in El Paso.
According to Texas law, anyone who thinks a child is being neglected, abused, or exploited, must report it to DFPS.
A person who reports in good faith is immune from civil or criminal liability. Anybody who doesn't report suspected abuse or neglect can be held liable for a misdemeanor or felony.
For more information on child safety, you can visit the DFPS website at http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/