Hungry 5-year-old tries to board bus alone

Social Services investigating possible neglect after Thursday morning incident

Police responded to a call of a 5-year-old girl, who apparently longed to return to preschool, trying to get on a school bus Thursday morning.

The girl reportedly had walked from the Columbine Apartments to a bus stop near Ridgeview Elementary School in an effort to get on a bus heading to the Moffat County Early Childhood Center on Yampa Avenue.

Preschoolers may be picked up at the bus stop but must be accompanied by an adult, Craig police Lt. John Forgay said.

Forgay said the girl had not attended school for three weeks. The girl's mother reportedly told school officials that she was pulling her daughter out of school because they were moving to Utah on Wednesday, Forgay said.

According to the police report, the girl's care was in question because her appearance had seemed unkempt by school workers, Forgay said.

Forgay said officials with the Department of Social Services initially tried to contact the mother but weren't able to reach her.

An interagency child protection team is reviewing the case to determine whether it constitutes child abuse or neglect, he said. Criminal charges may be pending, Forgay said. He declined to say whether drugs were found in the girl's home.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, child abuse and neglect is defined at minimum as "any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm or sexual exploitation." It's also defined as "an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."

Forgay said that the girl told officials that she had not eaten breakfast or lunch after teachers from Ridgeview Elementary School discovered her at about 11:30 a.m. Teachers at the school took the girl inside and fed her.

Forgay said that police sometimes get reports of young children walking to elementary school grounds wanting to go to school or because they are hungry.

"Certainly the teachers are empathic folks who work with children," he said. "They may get more attention at school than they do at home, it's sad to say."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com

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