A five-year-old boy was abused and neglected by his biological farther to the point that he only weighed 26 pounds when he was found by the authorities. Even then, the police were only able to come to his aid before he died because of a call put in by the boy’s older stepbrother, tipping them off to the case. The father and his wife have both been arrested and taken into custody, and they are now facing criminal charges for felony child endangerment.
In the wake of the arrests, the biological mother of the boy asked to be given custody of him after he got out of the hospital. However, the judge ruled that the boy should instead go to his aunt, who was given temporary child custody. The mother is allowed to visit whenever she would like to do so, but the child must live with his aunt, rather than with her and her boyfriend.
Part of the reason for this ruling is that the judge was concerned that the home would not be safe for the boy since the mother and her boyfriend did not pass a drug test. The judge was worried that they could be chronic users. Both of them tested positive for the use of marijuana.
A judge must determine what is in the best interests of any child in a case like this, and he or she has to take into account factors like drug use, income levels, housing situations and the like. This can be difficult to do quickly, which is why a child who desperately needs somewhere to live will often be put in a temporary situation — like foster care — while the details are all sorted out.
Source: HLN, “Boy who nearly starved to death out of hospital” Alexis Weed, Apr. 14, 2014