Shanesha Taylor, a mother of two from Scottsdale, Arizona, was called in for a job interview last week. Because she's homeless and doesn't have access to childcare, she had to leave her six-month-old and 2-year-old in the car with the windows cracked while she did the interview. While she was gone, police were called the scene; when she returned to her vehicle, she was arrested for child abuse and her children were put in the custody of Child Protective Services.
Taylor told the police that she couldn't have left the children at home because she's homeless and that she couldn't find anyone else willing to watch them. "She was upset," Scottsdale Police Sergeant Mark Clark told WSFB. "This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job. Obviously not getting the job. So it's just a sad situation."
Obviously, it's very dangerous to leave small children in a hot car — but the fact of the matter is that Shanesha's choices were completely limited by circumstance. What even were her options? She needs a job to afford childcare, but she needs childcare to be able to apply for a job. There's no way out. As Melissa McEwan at Shakesville puts it:
People who don't have family they can ask usually have neighbors, but Taylor is homeless. Or co-workers, but Taylor is jobless. Or someone they can pay, but Taylor has no money. With whom could she leave her children? There is no free daycare offered by the government—the same government that is trying to force women to have as many children as possible.
And this isn't just a "sad situation." It's the result of harmful government policies and poor infrastructure. As Annie-Rose Strasser points out at ThinkProgress, Arizona has cut 40 percent of its total childcare budget in the past four years, which has caused an estimated 33,000 children who would have been eligible for subsidized care to go without it. "Between 2012 and 2013, there was a decrease in the number of children served for every single child care program in the state except for Child Protective Services," Strasser notes. How do we expect women like Shanesha Taylor to break the cycle of poverty if they're forced to choose between going on job interviews and taking care of their children?
Fortunately, things aren't entirely dire: a Scottsdale resident named Amanda Bishop has started a fundraiser in order to help Shanesha, and so far it's raised nearly $30,000 — all of which will reportedly "be used to help Shanesha's situation and legal pursuits." According to Prison Culture, Shanesha's family posted bail earlier today, and she may be released from jail tonight. In addition, Bishop told Prison Culture in an email that Shanesha "has plans to get a specific lawyer" and that "her children are with family." In the meantime, Prison Culture has some suggestions on what you, personally, can do to help.
Image via Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.