At what point does parental negligence trigger government action?
WTOC News talked with the head of the Beaufort Emergency Management Association last month about procedures if a hurricane threatens and a mandatory evacuation is ordered by the governor. This is what we heard from Lt. Col. Neil Baxley.
"If you have small children they can't make that decision for themselves…I have an ESF back in the back corner…that is emergency welfare services; department of social services ...we're gonna EPC your child – take it into emergency protective custody and we're gonna turn it over to them and you won't see that child until after the storm and then after a 10 day period and then after a court hearing because that child can't make that decision for itself. We're gonna protect that child..if you're foolish enough to stay and ride the storm out that's your choice, you do have free choice although you're violating the law. But we're not gonna arrest you for it, But we're going to take the child into protective custody and we're going to look out for them and we're going to take your information so we can identify you afterwards."
On follow up our understanding is that taking a child into protective custody is an option – it is not automatic. And our Georgia counties do not have that provision regarding children.
The Beaufort rule seems extreme until you say the one word that puts it into context: Katrina.