At least 2.3 million women have been forced from the workforce during the pandemic, many due to closed schools and a lack of child care.
So after one Ohio mother was arrested on charges of child endangerment for allegedly leaving her young kids in a motel room while she tried to go to her job at Little Caesars, sympathetic people rallied to support her.
A GoFundMe for the 24-year-old mother, Shaina Bell, had garnered more than $50,000 in donations as of Tuesday morning. The fundraiser describes Bell as a single mom to three children who needs “permanent and safe housing.”
“This is a sad story. Arresting single parents in cases like this only furthers the goalpost for them,” one GoFundMe donor wrote on the fundraiser page for Bell. “An arrest can mean a loss of job & income, court fees, time away from work and barriers for future employment. I hope this young lady is able to get on her feet and get housing for her and her children.”
Another donor wrote, “I know too well the struggles of being a single Mom just working and trying to take care of your family. May God bless you!”
Liberty Township police found two of Bell’s kids alone in a room at a local Motel Six after 6 p.m. on Feb. 11, according to WFMJ-TV. Her 10-year-old told police that Bell was at work and would likely be back by 10 p.m., according to the outlet, and Bell informed officers that she typically had someone check on her children every hour.
She was still booked into the Trumbull County jail. She was charged with two counts of endangering children, a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a possible maximum sentence of six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
Bell has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, according to court records. She was released from jail Friday, county jail records show. Her next hearing is scheduled for April.
Bell did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment, and did not appear to have an attorney. Liberty Township Police Capt. Ray Buhala declined to comment, as the case is ongoing.
Her children have been turned over to their father, according to WFMJ-TV.
Bell’s case is seemingly reminiscent of other arrests spurred by a lack of child care. In 2014, a South Carolina mom was jailed after she let her 9-year-old daughter play at a park while she worked at a local McDonald’s. A year later, a mother was charged with abandoning her kids after she took her 6-year-old and 2-year-old to a job interview at a mall food court in Houston—although the woman insisted her kids were never out of her sight.
During the pandemic, securing child care has become even more arduous. Some students are still learning remotely so their families can avoid the spread of the coronavirus via classrooms. Day care sites have struggled to stay open during the pandemic too. That’s problematic for the many parents who have jobs that are impossible to conduct virtually—sometimes forcing them to choose between an income and watching their kids.