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Four children found malnourished at the home of a Wise County couple this month – including two who were locked up in a kennel – will remain in foster care for now.
Paige Harkings and Andrew Fabila, both 24, were arrested on February 12 on four counts each of child endangerment. Harkings, the children’s mother, also faces an aggravated assault charge.
Sheriff’s deputies were called early that morning to their home near County Road 4930 between Newark and Rhome regarding an incident of domestic violence. Deputies were speaking with Harkings and Fabila when they heard children inside a barn on the property, Sheriff Lane Akin said.
Harkings and Fabila, who is the father of one of the children, met with a judge on Wednesday for a custody hearing, child protective services spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said. The father of the other three children was also present, along with lawyers and social workers, she said.
The children are doing well and are living in a foster home in North Texas, where they will stay for now, Gonzales said.
“Everything is temporary at this point,” she said after the hearing. “At some point, we can find a suitable parent and have a home study done, and he can go stay with that parent.”
The next step in the case is a family group conference, where the parents and people in their support system will discuss with the CPS any family members who may be able to care for the children. , she said.
Harkings and Fabila will also have to act on any recommendations stemming from a drug and alcohol evaluation that the judge asked them to do, she said.
The four children – a 4-year-old girl and three boys aged 5, 3 and 1 – were found in a barn that had been roughly converted into a dwelling.
The two oldest children were locked in a kennel that measured about 3 feet in each dimension. They were covered in their own feces, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Some of the children “had dirty nappies that looked like they hadn’t been changed for a long time,” a deputy wrote in the affidavit.
There was food inside the barn, but the fridge and cabinets had been locked so children couldn’t get inside, the sheriff said.
Harkings remained in Wise County custody Wednesday, with bond set at $75,000, according to jail records. Fabila posted bail and was released from jail on February 19.
Another hearing is scheduled for next month, Gonzales said.