Houston woman with 26-year-old felony battles for custody of grandkids

At 53 years old, Sheila DeGar is in the midst of a personal tragedy.

"With them gone it's like a space in my heart is gone," said DeGar.

Until just a few weeks ago she was rearing three grand children - Chyna, age five, Chadrick, four and Cordae who is just two.

And while the grand kids' toys and school work are still present in DeGar's 3rd Ward home her "babies" are absent and may never return. 

"They came January 18th and they took them," said DeGar.

DeGar's daughter has a drug problem and battles with mental illness. Starting five years ago Child Protective Services agreed to let the three children remain with DeGar on condition the kid's mother was denied unsupervised access.

Most of the time that happened, but not always.

You see, DeGar works full-time as a housekeeper at St. Luke's and admits she allowed her daughter to watch Chyna, Chadrick and Cordae on the rare occasion when other family members or the kid's daycare couldn't.

"I let her come back because her kids are here, I'm here. She has no place to go. I don't want her out on the street," said DeGar.

A costly decision, because when a dispute with her daughter turned physical, CPS came and took the kids to foster care telling DeGar she could never get them back.

"I didn't qualify because I have a felony 26 years ago," said DeGar.

CPS says what DeGar was told was true during the month of January when the agency was under a temporary moratorium prohibiting the placement of children with anyone convicted of a felony.

That ban, they say, has since been lifted.

No one at CPS bothered to tell Sheila, who prays she will one day greet a school bus bearing her grand kids.

"I mean everybody makes mistakes and you shouldn't have to pay for your mistake the rest of your life," said DeGar.

CPS says DeGar lost the kids because she violated the Parent Child Safety Plan, a sort of one-strike-and-the-kids are out violation.

CPS says the case will be heard by a family court judge who has the power to restore custody.

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