Earlier this year Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were investigated by Montgomery County after letting their children, 10 and six, walk home alone from a park a mile away from their house. (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)

(Update: Mom: Children were ‘scared they would never see us again’)

The two Montgomery County children who were picked up last year while walking home alone were taken into custody again Sunday, authorities said.

The children of Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were taken into custody by county police at a park about 5 p.m. and turned over to the Child Protective Services agency, said Capt. Paul Starks, the county police spokesman. The children’s mother said they were released to the couple at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

The parents said the children, who are 10 and 6 and have been described as “free-range children,” had been expected home at 6 p.m. Sunday. When that time passed, the parents said, they began looking for them.

Danielle Meitiv waits with her son Rafi Meitiv, 10, for Danielle's daughter, Dvora Meitiv, 6, to be dropped off at the neighborhood school bus stop in Silver Spring earlier this year. (Sammy Dallal/For the Washington Post)

“We have been searching for the kids for hours,’’ the mother said in a Facebook posting. They learned of the children’s whereabouts about 8 p.m. The mother said they later spent about a half-hour at the CPS offices in Rockville without being allowed to see them.

Starks said police were dispatched after a stranger saw the unaccompanied children in the park near Fenton and Easley streets. He said police took the children to the CPS office.

No charges had been placed, Starks said, and the matter remained under investigation.

After CPS investigated the earlier incident, the Meitivs were notified that a finding of “unsubstantiated neglect” had been made. That is one of three findings that can be made in neglect investigations. The others are “ruled out” and “indicated.”

An official said that the “unsubstantiated” finding is typically made when CPS has some information supporting a conclusion of child neglect, when seemingly credible reports are at odds with each other or when there is insufficient information for a more definitive conclusion.

The Meitivs’ case prompted debate about responsible parenting, child safety and the government’s role. The couple takes the view that children learn self-reliance by being allowed to make choices and progressively experience the world on their own.

Legal age restrictions for children left at home alone. Some are guidelines and some states may have more definitive laws than others.