By Ted Scouten

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – One day after being arrested for leaving her child at home alone, Jennifer Peterson got an earful from Broward Judge John “Jay” Hurley.

“Right now, frankly m’am, this court’s not sure whether you’re a capable parent! You’re poor judgment is shocking,” Judge Hurley said.

Peterson’s accused of leaving her 5-year-old daughter home alone for seven hours while she went to work. She couldn’t find child care and was afraid she’d lose her job if she didn’t show up.

Felicia Walker knows that fear, she’s raising her 8-year-old grand-daughter.

“Financially, I wouldn’t be able to afford to put her in a daycare center because it’s too expensive,” Walker said.

Even though she and her husband work, they can’t afford child care on their own. They’re getting help from a group called “Family Central.”

“I feel blessed literally to be able to be receiving these services I receive and I don’t take them for granted,” Walker said.

Walker ends up paying about 15 dollars a week for child care. Right now, more than 10,000 kids are getting help, and 11,000 more are on the waiting list.

“Quality child care has become very expensive,” explained Barbara Weinstein of Family Central. “Parents can’t afford it, they can’t afford to be out of work.”

Dr. Weinstein says it’s been a tough year getting help for families. They’re facing millions of dollars in cuts from the state, but still she says every call for help will be answered.

“If they come in and they work with one of our counselors; we’ll do the best we can to at least help them find some place safe for their child during the day,” said Weinstein. “No child should ever, ever, ever be left alone at home.”

To find out more about Family Central or if you need assistance, whether you live in Miami-Dade or Broward, go to or call 954-720-1000.

  1. mary says:

    How does an organization with 11,000 kids on a waiting list help a parent who has an emergency need for child care now?!

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