As of Saturday, child neglect is illegal in Maryland.
Maryland was the only state in the country that did not have such a law, and earlier this year, the general assembly passed a bill making child neglect a misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in prison. The bill failed in Annapolis the previous three years.
"In 2010, Maryland's child protective services received nearly 14,000 reports of child neglect and found over 4,000 confirmed cases," Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said, highlighting the fact that child neglect is not as easy to spot as child abuse.
Brown added that the law does not allow parents to be charged if neglect occurs because of poverty, homelessness and the duress of domestic violence.