Mom Fired For Working At McDonald’s While Kid Plays In Park…Was She Wrong?

Despite my headline, let me first say that it appears as if McDonald’s has communicated with this mom’s attorney that there was a misunderstanding about her employment status and that she been offered the right to return to work.

See what had happened was, Debra Harrell, a McDonald’s employee in North Augusta, South Carolina was arrested and charged with a felony with unlawful neglect towards a child for leaving her 9 year old daughter in a playground for hours at a time while she worked at the nearby McDonald’s. The girl would then make the 1.5 mile trek to the McDonald’s located inside a Walmart where her mom worked in time for lunch.

At issue here is that the child was left alone in the park for some time.  I don’t want to be one of those, “back when I was kid” people, but honestly, back when I was a kid, if my mom didn’t ship us out of the country for summer vacation, we spent half of the time at the local park or playing with friends on our street and about a third of our time at the local library, located exactly 1.2 miles from our home (I Google mapped it out). We would get there by walking there ourselves and back. When I was in school at that age, if I missed the school bus I would have to take public transportation by myself and that was a 4.1 miles away from the house.

Currently, South Caroline follows the Federal minimum wage guideline which would most likely pay Ms. Harrell $7.25 an hour for her work at McDonald’s. If she works a total of 40 hours per week the entire year and never takes a day off, the most that she will take home is $15,080…before taxes. I have the privilege of working with employee benefits and know that many of the working moms at my current client pay a minimum of $1,300 per month for child care for one child. If she couldn’t find someone to care for her child while school was out, this mom didn’t have many options.  My mom is currently babysitting my cousin’s two children because she too is having a hard time finding someone to care for her children while they are out of school because she can not afford the $2,000 per month that day camp costs for two children.

This is the true face of the working poor. There is a true lack of options available for single parents who work low wage jobs.  Child care alone would eat up an entire months’ pay check. I know that we’ll point to social welfare options, but have you ever filled out one of those forms? I actually went to the Department of Social Services to get an application for public assistance because I wanted to write an article about the form and the process.  What I got back, I shit you not, was an application, forms and paperwork that must have weighed at least three pounds. If you think that it’s that easy to get social welfare, think again.

So, you tell me, was what she did so wrong?



WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News
P.S. The law in South Carolina says that 9 year olds can be left on their own.

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5 thoughts on “Mom Fired For Working At McDonald’s While Kid Plays In Park…Was She Wrong?

  • I agree. We do live in a slightly different world now than we did when we were kids, but I think that arresting her for endangerment or whatever is just straight up silly. The cost of daycare, even in my neck of the woods, is crazy expensive. I can’t imagine having to pay for that on the salary of a single parent.

  • That’s tough. I’m sure that given the choice the mom would have preferred her daughter to be in a home or under supervision, but she tried doing the best with what she had available. I don’t think she should have been fired and hopefully the update was correct and that she wasn’t.

  • over by me children can be unattended at age 11. So, if its 9 over there, i don’t have a problem with it because obviously sickos dont go for 9year olds and they probably do where i am from. And I agree mcdonalds shouldn’t fire her if the law says its ok to leave the child there unattended.

  • hk: sickos don’t go for 9 yo ??? Oh, yes they do. Gross, huh ?
    Regardless of the law, I think a 9 yo needs supervision. Staying in your home at 9 yo – maybe ? Not really knowing where your kid is ? No way. I don’t judge her as a person. She does not have a lot of good choices here. Kids this age are taken care of during the day by the school system. When the school stops for summer, the children still need care. In some areas, there are day camps and such for kids in this situation. Also, hunger is an issue for these families if the kids were eating lunch at school. There is a program in my town that goes to the parks and apartment complexes and hands out free sack lunch.
    Where is Dad ? Did he pay his child support ? Can he watch the child ? Does he have family that could watch the child ? Why does the Mom always get her face on TV etc and the Dad is ignored.???

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