Illinois mom investigated after letting 8-year-old daughter walk dog alone

The mom of an 8-year-old in suburban Chicago is railing against a “crazy waste of resources” that ended in what CBS Chicago describes as a “legal nightmare.”

The Chicago Tribune details how on Aug. 2, Corey Widen’s daughter took the family dog, Marshmallow, for a walk around their Wilmette neighborhood. Shortly after the girl returned, Widen found local police at her front door, asking how long her daughter had been out and how old she was.

The cops, who’d been called by a neighbor concerned at spotting the child by herself, were satisfied with Widen’s answers. But a call was then also placed (not by the cops) to Illinois’ Department of Child and Family Services, with the caller claiming the child was younger than 5 years old, had been left unattended for 90 minutes, and was playing in a parking lot, Widen and DCFS tell NBC Chicago.

“She was gone for five minutes … and I could see her through the yard,” Widen says.

A two-week-long DCFS probe ensued, and Widen was forced to hire an attorney. The investigation found there was no child neglect, with DCFS noting in a statement to People that “we don’t control the calls that come into our hotline. Something made someone think there was a concern, and we don’t know without checking it out.”

ABC News notes Widen’s story, which she posted on social media, has thrown new fuel onto the “free-range parenting” fire, and Widen says after she revealed what had happened, she heard from other “mom-shamed” mothers who’ve gone through similar things.

“For something like this to happen to me, there’s something really wrong,” Widen tells the Tribune, adding she home-schools her daughter. “I’m a joke with my friends because my kids are around me all the time.”

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