A woman who was jailed for leaving her 5-year-old daughter locked in a car while she worked a second job will be reunited with the child, according to a court ruling Wednesday. "Anjuli, I love you," shouted Chante Fernandez, the mother, at a crowded news conference here.
Judge John Callahan ruled that custody of the child will remain with the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services for 30 days and then be returned to the mother.
The child, Anjuli Fernandez, has been under state care and living in a foster home since Oct. 21, when security guards found her locked inside her mother's car in a New Jersey parking lot.
Fernandez was arrested, charged with criminal restraint and jailed for two days before being released on bail.
The 24-year-old mother drew initial criticism from the public, but the condemnation was later overtaken by a wave of sympathy and support when Fernandez's story came to light.
Divorced in June 1989, she told the court she had been forced to leave her child inside her car while she worked at a department store because she had been unable to find a reliable babysitter.
She said she was also unable to find night or weekend day care and needed the job to support herself and her child.
"I only want one full-time job now," the 24-year-old mother said. "My weekends belong to my daughter."