Mom gets called by social services after 8-year-old child walked dog alone

A mother who let her 8-year-old daughter walk the family dog by herself near their home is speaking out after being investigated by the police and child services when a neighbor reported the girl was unaccompanied by an adult.

Corey Widen, 48, a mother of two from Wilmette, Illinois, said she allowed her daughter, Dorothy, to walk their dog, Marshmallow, around the block when a neighbor called police.

"She was gone for five minutes," Widen told NBC Chicago. "I was in the backyard and I could see her through the yard."

The police investigated and found nothing to pursue, but then the family was contacted by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services two days later after the same neighbor called the agency, according to Widen.

"These are upper-middle class, stay-at-home moms who have been investigated because someone didn't have anything better to do with their time and called police on them,'' Widen said.

The DCFS investigation found no wrongdoing, a spokesperson told NBC Chicago. The family's ordeal has spurred Widen to call for reform to the child welfare system.

"The hotline narrative said the caller reported that the child was five years old or less," the agency said in a statement. "We went out and investigated, and the investigation has already been unfounded. We don't control the calls that come into our hotline. Something made someone think that there was a concern, and we don't know without checking it out."

The instance is the latest in which police or child services have been called and investigations launched after children have been left unattended for a few minutes or within short distances from home.

In 2013, a 4-year-old child being left in an SUV for 15 minutes while her mother ran an errand in a nearby store resulted in a 911 call that led to the woman being fined $500 and nearly facing jail time after an investigation by child services.

A Maryland couple were found "responsible for unsubstantiated child neglect" by local child protective services in 2015 after their their children ages 10 and 6 walked home alone from a playground a mile from their home.

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