Following a Monday court hearing, a Kentucky couple living what they call a “simple, back-to-basics life” in a rural, off-the-grid shack has lost custody, at least temporarily, of their 10 children. Joe and Nicole Naugler — who are expecting an 11th child in October — will remain under investigation by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), while their kids, ranging in age from 3 months to 15 years old, will stay in the agency’s custody.
“Although we are sad our children will not be returned to us today, we have nothing to hide,” Joe Naugler wrote on the family’s Facebook page, Blessed Little Homestead. “We have cooperated with all requests made to us by CHFS and will continue to do so. We are confident that throughout this process, Nicole and I will be shown to be the good parents that we are and that our family will be reunited.”
The court’s decision came several days after authorities removed the children from their home, following an anonymous police complaint about the family’s living conditions — which allegedly include residing under a crude tarp construction, having no heat or running water, and having no septic system (which the Nauglers dispute). But many of their supporters believe they’re being targeted for their lifestyle, which includes living off the power grid, birthing children at home, and relying on “unschooling,” which is a less structured approach to homeschooling.
The case is just the latest of its kind to raise national questions about Child Protective Services overreaching and flouting parental rights. Other cases grabbing the national spotlight recently have included that of the Meitiv family in Maryland, investigated by CPS for allowing their children to walk unattended to a nearby playground, as well as that of the Stanleys, in Arkansas, who had their seven children removed from the home in January over a dispute related to a mineral supplement.
“My reaction to this case is that CPS and those with power in our society tend to make decisions based on what they view as normal or not normal,” says David DeLugas, executive director and general counsel for the National Association of Parents, which aims to guard parent-child relationships. “But,” he tells Yahoo Parenting, “the same protocol should be employed in all situations: Are the children hurt? Are they in imminent danger of being hurt? If the answer is no, then we should ask the question — we should all ask the question: Why do anything?”
A spokesperson for CHFS in Kentucky tells Yahoo Parenting, “The Cabinet for Health and Family Services cannot confirm or provide any information about Child Protective Services investigations, as that information is confidential by law.” A receptionist at the Breckinridge County Sheriff’s Office also would not provide any information, telling Yahoo Parenting that there is a “gag order” regarding the Nauglers, because this is “a juvenile case.”
The Nauglers did not respond to a request for comment made through their website. But their Save Our Family website answers questions about their living conditions, explaining that they have a wood stove for heat, an “open cabin” made of metal and tarps, a composting toilet, a pond with potable water, and a generator for power. They explain that they are naturopaths who would “seek professional medical care if it was needed,” and that they make an income from a pet grooming business. They describe their lifestyle as “intentional.”
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SOURCE: Yahoo! Parenting