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‘Free-Range Parenting’ Guidelines Issued by State

Maryland officials have limited state child protective services involvement in so-called “free-range” parenting cases under a policy directive released on Friday.

The new guidelines come after a Silver Spring, Maryland, couple, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, drew national attention when they were charged with child neglect for letting their children walk home alone from a park in December.

The policy limits child protective services’ involvement in so-called “free-range” parenting cases unless children have been harmed or face an serious and immediate danger.

The state Department of Human Resources “is mindful that every family applies its members’ own personal upbringing, life experiences and expectations to parenting, and it is not the department’s role to pick and choose among child-rearing philosophies and practices,” spokeswoman Paula Tolson said in a statement.

The December incident sparked debate over allowing young children to act without parental supervision and over government overstepping.

The child protective services agency found the Meitivs responsible for “unsubstantiated child neglect” after police stopped their 6-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son while walking home from a park in Silver Spring, a Washington suburb. The finding was dropped in May.

The agency is also investigating the Meitivs on neglect charges stemming from an April 12 incident where police picked up the children while walking home from a different park. The children were held for five hours.

The new policy addresses the protocol for detaining children involved in alleged neglect cases. It requires immediate notification of a supervisor before a child can be held by authorities.—Reuters

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