Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

‘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


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.