Water shutoffs bring concern over welfare of children

DETROIT – The Defenders are learning that the state is taking action as Detroit makes national news for its water woes.

Thousands who owe money on their water bills are now without running water.

The Michigan Department of Human Services is getting swamped with complaints from consumers as well as calls from concerned citizens about the welfare of some children. Some are questioning whether the Water Department is going too far by cutting service to those who don't pay up.

Nicole Hill's home is without water after being cut off by the city as she contests a $5,700 balance on her water bill. She receives donated bottled water, but she was so concerned DHS would learn her children were without water that her kids are now staying with another family member.

A DHS spokesperson told Local 4, "We have recently received a large number of requests from people seeking financial assistance to help pay their water bills. We are working to process those requests as quickly as possible. We are also hearing from citizens concerned about children living in conditions without water and we are investigating these cases."

But no running water doesn't necessarily mean children will be removed from the home.

Michigan law states that child neglect occurs through negligent treatment, including failure to provide water. However, parents may still meet that requirement even if their home's water is shut off -- whether it's through bottled water or obtaining water at the home of a relative.

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