MAJOR UPDATE: There has been some conflicting information in the press about Debra's employment status. Please see the update dated 7/24 for clarification.
ANOTHER WAY TO HELP: sign the Change.org petition to urge that the charges against Debra be dropped! http://www.change.org/petitions/mom-jailed-for-letting-9-year-old-daughter-play-at-park-near-job
UPDATE: To facillitate updating donors more conveniently, I created a facebook page: www.facebook.com/supportdebraharrell. Like and share to your hearts content! I will still post critical updates to this page too.
EDIT: I left out a critical detail in the original description. Ms. Harrell is no longer in jail. She has been free on bond since July 3rd, before her story went viral, but the charges against her are still pending and her daughter is still in state custody.
The unfortunate reality is that hard working Americans in low paying jobs can barely afford food and shelter let alone child care. Debra Harrell of North Augusta, SC, works in the food service industry and had previously been bringing her nine-year-old daughter to work, where she entertained herself on a laptop during mom's shift. Debra began allowing her daughter to play at a park near their home during her work shifts after the laptop was stolen from their home. The little girl was given a cell phone so she could call her mom at any time, and she also had a key to her house, which is roughly seven tenths of a mile from the mark. On June 30, when a parent at the park found out that Debra's daughter was alone and Debra was at work, the police were called. They arrested Debra for child abandonment/neglect and placed her daughter in the custody of the Department of Social Services. Debra has been free on bond since July 3rd, and her daughter, Regina, was returned to her care on July 18th, but the case against her is still pending.
To be sure, leaving a nine-year-old child out of sight and unsupervised for hours at a time is a choice that some parents would not make. However, many parents do choose to give their children a degree of independence and freedom and fondly remember enjoying the same freedoms as children themselves. It's a known fact that poor families with single and working parents struggle mightily in the summer when kids aren't able to go to school. However, it would be a very rigid reading of the SC state laws regarding child protection to consider leaving a nine-year-old at a busy park close to the parent's location during daylight hours "abandonment." Taking her daughter away was also a slap in the face to Debra as it sends a message that as a working mom, all her efforts are just not good enough.
The fundraiser is intended to help Debra pay her legal fees and to help her get back on her feet after the loss of work hours that has surely resulted. All the money raised will go to Debra. I will be in touch with her via her lawyer very soon to figure out how to transfer the funds. Please give what you can to help!
As for me? I'm Clair. I'm a total stranger from the Boston area (Southern New Hampshire) with little in common with Debra. I don't have any kids and I've never had to rely on a low wage job to make ends meet. I have a full-time job with benefits. I work hard, but I've never struggled, and I know how incredibly lucky and privileged I am for that. And I don't believe it makes me a better or more worthy person than anyone else, whether they're unemployed or working for minimum wage, trying to feed a family. I was moved by Debra's story and by the response from both very liberal and conservative people that arresting Debra and taking her daughter away was not the right solution.
Thank you so much for reading. I will try to keep up with any questions you ask via the button below!