Something I’ve wondered for a while is, how bad does a child’s physical living space have to be for them to be removed? Especially if it isn’t “bad” but rather just small or cluttered.
Example: A friend of mine lives in a large (maybe 1800 or so square feet) double-wide mobile home. In that home lives my friend, her wife, their four children, and my friend’s mother. The home was originally 3 bedrooms but they added a fourth by dividing up one of the living rooms. So the elderly mother has her own room, my friend and her wife share a room with the baby, the next two oldest (4 and 5, I think) share a room, and the oldest kid (a teenager) has his own room. There’s still a big kitchen, two living rooms, two big bathrooms, a proper laundry room and storage room,and a usable dining room. It’s not a tiny house.
The house is old and suffers from mold around the windows and the back door. They keep it scrubbed but it tends to creep back in the winter. The problem, according to a handyman friend of theirs, is that the brick supports the house sits on have settled a bit over the years, causing the window frames to be out of true just enough to let water in. Same with the back door. To really fix it the house needs to be re-leveled and the windows & back door replaced.
Here’s the kicker: they refuse to do it not because of the cost or time involved but because they are absolutely terrified that if they call a proper contractor to come do the work (which would likely be needed, a handyman wouldn’t cut it), the contractor will call CPS and have the kids taken away for… reasons? I asked why she was afraid of CPS and she had a whole list of reasons: the house is filthy, the kids don’t have their own rooms, too many people living under one roof, a conservative town hates lesbian mothers… the list goes on. The house isn’t huge but it is adequate at least until the baby is big enough to need her own room. There are toys scattered about but not filth and dirt—the house is messy but not dirty. All the plumbing and electrical systems work, a good furnace keeps it warm in the winter, and the bathrooms are clean and usable… it’s a pretty normal home. As for the window issues, well that’s why the contractor would be there. Right now I think the leaks are more of an annoyance than a danger.
On the same spectrum but much worse is a sort of friend-of-a-friend. I heard from my friend that this person lives in a tiny (maybe 800sq ft) 2 bedroom home where there are also 7 people living… three adults (one of which is pregnant) and 4 children. The oldest adult has one bedroom, the other two adults (including the pregnant woman) sleep in cots in the corner of the dining room, two children share the second bedroom, the other two sleep on couches in the living room. Again, the house is safe and warm and clean, just way way too small for everyone who has to live there. Apparently she also lives in fear of CPS.
Anyway, I have no idea how realistic their fears are. So I guess my question is, when does living conditions cross the line into “take the kid out of here now”? This assumes no abuse or other signs of neglect. The kids are healthy and well-fed and go to school and come home to a warm home… it just happens to be just a small or cluttered house with not enough bedrooms to go around.