A 28-year-old homeless woman faces three charges in child endangerment after she reportedly left her three children on a bench while she attended a job training event.
Sheryce Dozier left her children, ages 7, 4 and 2, sitting on a bench in front of an Applebee’s restaurant while she went across the street to a Wendy’s job orientation event, according to an incident report cited by WXIX.
Dozier told police that she had recently moved to Middletown, Ohio, and was desperate to secure a job, WCPO reported.
She had been living at the Middletown Center of Hope for Women and Children.
An Applebee’s employee called police after seeing the kids sit on the bench alone for 15 minutes.
“I have three little African-American kids in my lobby right now that their mother apparently left outside sitting on one of our benches,” the restaurant’s manager said on the 911 call, according to Daily Mail.
Dozier acknowledged that she knew she would be leaving her children unattended for at least 30 minutes, but felt she had no choice.
“They're coming into emergency shelters so they're feeling already pretty beat up when they come here,” Melissa Schwarber, the center’s director, said, according to WCPO. “When you've got children crying, they're coming into a new environment, so their world is taking yet another turn. They really are unsure of what they need to do.”
Schwarber said that support for childcare can be obtained.
“It's getting easier for us to access those vouchers,” she said, WCPO reported.
“The paperwork, the appointments -- there's a lot there that you have to do ... But it's all good if they would really set down and work the process,” she added.
Police said that the 7-year-old boy should have been in school at the time, according to WXIX.
Dozier’s sister was reportedly unable to collect the children while their mother was arrested, because she did not have a driver’s license. Police put them in the care of the homeless shelter where they have been staying with their mother.
Dozier was due to make her first court appearance today.