The young mother needed a safe space to keep her kids while she worked to provide for them. Instead, she got arrested for leaving them alone.
Being a single mother is in no way an easy task. It was made even harder during the pandemic as nearly 2.3 million women were forced from the workforce, many of them due to closed schools and a lack of child care, according to National Woman's Law Center.
But many of these women have no choice but to re-enter the workforce in whatever way they can if they want to make ends meet and to ensure that their kids are taken care of. So when one single mother in Ohio was arrested on charges of child endangerment for allegedly leaving her young children in a motel room while she made her way to her job at Little Caesars, plenty of people rallied for her.
24-year-old single mother Shaina Bell had left her two daughters alone in a Belmont Avenue motel room and headed out for work. Meanwhile, acting on a tip, according to WFMJ, the Liberty Township police arrived at the motel in the evening and discovered a 10-year-old girl and her two-year-old sister in the room. The older sister mentioned that her mother was at work and was meant to be back by 10 P.M.
Soon, Shaina was found at the pizza shop and informed officers that she usually had someone check in on her kids every hour while she was at work. However, the officers were unsympathetic to her plight and placed her into the county jail on two counts of child endangering which is a first-degree misdemeanor that could mean a possible maximum sentence of six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000 for the young mother, according to Vice. The children were then placed in their father's custody. The young mother has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, according to court records with a hearing date set for April 2021.
While Shaina was released the following day, she needed immediate housing. So her supporters started a GoFundMe for the 24-year-old which has raised more than $81,000 (at the time of publishing this article). The fundraiser describes Shaina as a "single mother of three young children. She works hard and she loves her family very much. This campaign was created to help Shaina and her children raise the money they need in order to secure permanent and safe housing. Everything raised will go directly to establishing a safe and permanent home for Shaina, Faith, Jai'Sean and Jade."
“This is a sad story. Arresting single parents in cases like this only furthers the goalpost for them,” one GoFundMe donor wrote on the page. “An arrest can mean a loss of job & income, court fees, time away from work and barriers for future employment. I hope this young lady is able to get on her feet and get housing for her and her children.” Another donor wrote, “I know too well the struggles of being a single Mom just working and trying to take care of your family. May God bless you!”
While this is indeed a sad story, this isn't the first time a single mother has been arrested for finding alternative ways to leave their kids while they go to work. In 2014, a mom from South Carolina was jailed after she allowed her nine-year-old daughter to play at a park while she worked at a local McDonald’s. During the pandemic, securing child care has become that much harder given that kids are now learning online and remotely and daycare centers are struggling to stay open given the numerous lockdowns.