Shanesha Taylor, a mother living in Scottsdale, Arizona, was arrested in March after leaving her children, ages six months and two years old, in the car while she went to a job interview. But on Friday, Maricopa County announced a plea agreement that would drop the charges against her if she completes classes and establishes trusts for her children.
Taylor, who was homeless at the time, got a job interview with Farmers Insurance to be an insurance agent, which would have paid $39,000 with the ability to earn much more. That would have been a significant step up, given that she was making $1,232 a month including food stamps to cover $1,274 in expenses. But even though she had arranged for a babysitter, no one answered the door at the babysitter’s on the day of the interview. So she drove to the interview and left her children in the car with windows cracked and the car fan blowing.
When she came out, her children had already been taken to the hospital after passersby called 911. She was arrested and spent 10 days in jail before crowdfunding paid her $9,000 bail, while her children have been with protective services. She was charged with two counts of felony child abuse and faced up to eight years in prison.
Now it looks likely she’ll be able to avoid further jail time and reunite with her children. If she completes parenting and substance-abuse classes and establishes education and childcare trusts for her children with at least $10,000 each in them, her case will be dismissed. The online fund has raised $114,775 for her as of July 21.
“This is a beautiful resolution to a very long, very hard journey,” Taylor said Friday morning of the agreement.
She is scheduled for a court hearing to regain custody of her children and her attorney is confident she’ll get them back.
Taylor’s case quickly went viral after news was announced online, helping to fuel the crowdfunding that covered her bail and will enabling her to make trusts for her kids. But other cases may fly under the radar. And no doubt many mothers face the kind of decision Taylor faced when she went to the job interview. In Arizona, childcare spending has been cut by 40 percent, leading to an estimated 33,000 children going without subsidized care. Across the country, spending on childcare assistance is at the lowest level in more than a decade, and the number of children served has dropped by about 263,000 since 2006. But the cost of care keeps rising, reaching as much as $12,000 for a four-year-old and consuming more than 10 percent of median family income in 21 states and Washington, D.C.
This situation has created a Catch-22 for many low-income mothers who can’t work without childcare but can’t afford childcare on their wages. Another mother recently made headlines when she was arrested for letting her nine-year-old daughter play in a park during the summer months while she worked at McDonald’s. While a crowdfunding page for her says that she has been out of jail on bond since July 3 and was recently reunited with her daughter, it also claims that McDonald’s fired her.
After a court hearing on August 28th, Taylor was granted custody of her children again and was allowed to pick them up the same day. “I finally breathed,” she said after the hearing. “I don’t think I breathed for three days before that.”