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Homeless woman leaves toddler and infant in car for job interview: Right or Wrong?


mom crying

If you’ve watched the news in the last few weeks or are on social media quite frequently, you have seen this picture and heard about this case.

It is the case of a Phoenix woman, Shanesha Taylor, leaving her two children in the car to go on a job interview.  A passerby saw the children in the car sweating and crying.  The police were called and the children were removed from the vehicle and taken to the hospital. When the mother returned to her car 45-60 minutes later, she was greeted by the police and questioned.  She allegedly stated that she is homeless and couldn’t find child care.

There are a ton of articles for and against this case.  Some state that she is not homeless and lives with a parent.  Some say she had family in the area and was either estranged from them or too proud to ask for help. Some even questioned if she actually had an interview.

I’ve spoken with friends and co-workers( of diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds), particularly women with children to get their thoughts.  They were all torn and couldn’t provide a concise answer.

So as the old folks say, let’s eat the meat and spit out the fat.

These are the facts:

  • Mom left her 2-year-old and 6 month-old in a car unattended
  • It was very hot in the car and the children were sweating. Click here to see the dangers of child heatstroke.
  • Mom went back to the car when she finished what she was doing.
  • It is clear in every article that I have read that she didn’t intend to abandon or harm the children.
  • The children appear not to have suffered any injuries.

Everything else is left up to our opinions, biases and interpretations.

So for the purpose of this post, let’s assume she is homeless, didn’t feel she had someone to watch the children and didn’t intend the children harm.


You can make bad choices and find yourself in a downward spiral or you can find something that gets you out of it.” –Ray LaMontagne


There has been an outpouring of support for Ms. Taylor and a woman has put together the Shanesha Taylor Fundraiser. There was a goal of raising $9,000 to assist her in raising bail.  The total raised has reached $101,000 and is set to be used for an attorney, court fees and items related to the children and shelter.

There is a section on the site that contains comments and of course a hot debate is brewing. One of the commenters named Karen had this to say:

“While I can certainly sympathize and empathize with Shanesha …. I was a single mother of four ….. leaving a 2-year-old and a 6 month old alone in a car in the heat, with the keys in the ignition is just WRONG! I have 3 dogs and wouldn’t do that to them, let alone a child …. and for over an hour??? If it was not for an apparent passer-by who saw the children ‘sweating profusely’ who called the paramedics, those children might not be with us today. Rewarding bad behavior only encourages more bad behavior. Ms. Taylor should have rescheduled the interview to a day and time when she would have had childcare available rather than risk the lives of her children….which is exactly what she did, and why her children were taken into protective custody and she was arrested.”

This is where I will sit for a few.

I was kinda with Karen until she got to the section in bold.  It is clear that “Karen” comes from a background of privilege.  She probably has had no real struggles and has no clue of what’s it’s like to live in poverty.  If indeed this woman was homeless and is desperately trying to find a job, there is no re-scheduling of anything.  When you are fighting for your life each opportunity is seized when it comes.

Unfortunately, her opportunity resulted in making a terrible choice. But haven’t we all been guilty of making a bad choice? 

Oh, I’m sorry.  This is the part where we get self-righteous and say that we make bad decisions, but not decisions like that.

What I can say after 19 years working with children and families in the school system and ministry, coupled with my recent personal drama, I am making a concerted effort not to judge people.  People have a lot of ish going on in their lives and you would be amazed at the things that people have to endure to survive.


People do make mistakes and I think they should be punished. But they should be forgiven and given the opportunity for a second chance. We are human beings.”           –David Millar


The real issue

What needs to be identified is not the issue of right or wrong, but what put her in the predicament where she felt her only option was to leave the children in the car. Once the root of the problem is discovered and dealt with, a plan can be put in place to deal with everything else.

A recent episode of Oprah’s Life Class with Iyanla Vanzant showcased the issue of guilt with a woman who was driving drunk with her two children in the car. One child ended up in critical condition when she ran off the road and slammed into a tree.  This clip tells her story and the root of her issue was revealed.




There will be repercussions in regards to Shanesha’s actions.  This could show up as probation, parenting classes, jail time or losing her children.

She made a bad decision and her children are unharmed. Mom deserves a second chance.  My prayer and hope for her is that she is surrounded by people who have her best interests at heart, get her through these trials and take her to the next level.

At the end of the day, I’m rooting for the kids.  Why make their lives any more difficult? If that means the best thing for them is to get their mom back, so be it.


Let’s have some candid conversation about this issue or anything else related to decisions that had to be made in dire circumstances.  Weigh in and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.  All responses are valued!



Permanent link to this article: http://www.keepitmovingblog.com/2014/04/14/homeless-woman-leaves-toddler-and-infant-in-car-for-job-interview-right-or-wrong/


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  1. Keisha Broomes

    I read about this story and my heart went out to the mother. Its obvious she was desperate. What I find very interesting is that very few of the articles and news stories written about the incident asked the obvious, “Where was the father while all this was going on? Where is he now?” I truly dislike demonizing (and in this case, arresting) young mothers. The children were not produced by one person. And frankly, I dislike the idea of jailing a mother because she didn’t have anywhere to take her children. As an unemployed person, I’m wondering why her children weren’t signed up in a day care program, unless there weren’t any openings in her area. I think there are too many open questions in this case to just point the finger at the mom, who in a moment of desperation, made a horrible choice.

    1. Nichole Renee

      Keisha, I agree with the points that you are making. In one of the articles that I read, apparently when you are homeless there is an issue with getting childcare (or not getting it at all). I can’t remember all the ins and outs. It seems the media picks and chooses the type or demographic of individuals that they want to ask all of those questions about (i.e the father, their childhood, their circumstances, etc. Obviously, she does not fit the criteria of a person that the media gives that type of understanding to.

      And you are correct, there is so little information. Every now and then I will check on her fundraiser page for updates. As usual, thank you for being one of my “regulars!”

  2. AJ

    This will be an interesting debate. Personally, I think this situation is in a gray area. On the one side I think the lady was extremely irresponsible for leaving the children in the car. I understand she was homeless and didn’t have anyone to watch them, but children die every year because they get trapped in hot cars. If you feel like leaving your kids in the car is the ONLY option, why would you park directly in the hot sun? Aside from the kids being left alone in the heat, anyone could have come by and kidnapped and abused her kids. Someone could have stolen her car with the kids inside.

    We only hear a portion of the story in the news, so we don’t know what thought process this woman went through before deciding to leave the kids in the car. She had to have known something had to be done with the children a couple days ahead of time. Did she try to explain her situation to any shelters, churches, or other resources who could have assisted with childcare? I also wonder if she had other options, but she let pride get in the way of using those resources.

    Someone brought up a good point on another site. If she had received the job, what would she have done with her kids? Would she continue leaving them in the car until she saved enough money for childcare?

    From the other perspective, what else could she do? If she tried all her resources and there was no other option I can understand why she left them in the car. I don’t think it would have been appropriate for her to take the kids to the interview. More than likely they would have seen a single mom with childcare issues and not given her the opportunity. Since she was stuck in that situation she felt she needed to get to the interview by any means possible to give her family a chance at a better life.

    Anyways, I’m not here to judge, but you wanted a debate. Overall, I sympathize with the woman but I think the risks outweighed the rewards in this situation. I think it’s great that people feel the need to support this woman, but $100,000? Is that rewarding bad behavior? Either way you feel, this is a great opportunity to bring awareness to a different aspect of the homeless community. Hopefully this case will lead organizations to offer, or bring more awareness to programs that may already exist for childcare for homeless people looking for jobs or an education.

    1. Nichole Renee

      AJ, thank you for your thorough response. The points about leaving the car parked in the sun, what would she have done with the kids if she got the job and amount of money raised were things I wondered about and wanted to discuss. With the money part, you would be amazed how fast that money could disappear especially if she gets a good attorney. Their fees, courts costs and a slew of other items could easily wipe that right out.

      Now the part where you pointed out her not taking the kids in the office, I chuckled. I am envisioning one on the hip, and dragging the other one with a sippy cup and a book bag and both crying. Not a good look.

      Now we definitely need to have more awareness on the topic. This recession has many of us getting closer and closer to being homeless–a lot of us are only one paycheck away…

  3. Fred

    I think it’s too soon to comment because we don’t know all the details. However, common sense tells me (in this day and age) that it is unwise, unsafe and irresponsible for a parent to leave vulnerable and helpless children in a car unattended. I’m amused at the level of “speculation” by some of the commenters since we don’t have enough information to really know or understand the circumstances that “led” the mother to leave her children in the car. I will wait for the “other” side of the story to come out before.

    1. Nichole Renee

      Fred, I am glad you had a chance to read what some of the commenters were saying. A lot of the things were really cruel. It will be very interesting to see what really happened when the dust settles. Or, if that point if anyone will even care.

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