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Keep families together

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Your article "N.Y. toughens its stance on child neglect" (Oct. 26) stated that New York has gone from counseling to arresting. It stated "A few years ago, these mothers would have been counseled, not arrested." One of "these mothers" was arrested for living, with her 5-year-old son, in a roach-infested apartment that had no running water. Instead of arresting this poor mother, they should have helped her, by either reconstructing the place or by getting a livable apartment. Instead, they placed the child in foster care while the mother was in custody pending a court appearance. Another mother was arrested for leaving her 4- and 10-year-old sons while she went to the local grocery store. Why? I was baby sitting by the time I was 8 years old. Also, in the same paper was the story of a mother who took her premature newborn, who was addicted to cocaine, from the hospital. This mother did not have legal custody of the infant. Randy Ripplinger, spokesman for the Utah Department of Children and Family Services, said, "Our goal . . . is to restore them (children) to their family." This should be the goal of every Child Welfare Department. They should first try to help the family with counseling and parental training. Then if that is not successful or if the child is in immediate danger, they should then put the child in foster care. However, in the case of the rundown apartment, arresting the mother did nothing to solve the problem. There are better ways to address problems of parental neglect than simply putting the parent in jail.

Kimberly OlsenSouth Jordan