My neigbor is now a grandmother of two little girls about whom she is very concerned.

Relevant backstory: The grandmother/neighbor was an adict to multiple things while she raised the mother of the two girls. The grandmother is now clean and sober and has been for ten years, but she lost most of her girls' own childhood. Her daughters have similar troubles now and the grandmother who is my neighbor has done what she can (suggested AA etc.)

The oldest daughter has now had two children of her own that are basically being neglected. The six month baby is being given sugar with her formula and rice cereal (God only knows why this mom thinks that is a good idea!), both gradaughters have been left with friends and boyfriends while no one was in the house that wasn't influenced by one substance or another, they are often dropped off at the grandmother's house with horrible rashes etc. The older grandaughter is three and still not potty trained - most of the rashes are related to being left in their own mess too long and not being bathed.

What I am aksing She has asked me for ideas about what to do. She doesn't like the idea of reporting to the authorities (which is something I brought up in the discussion) because she is afraid she will never see her grandaughters again if she does so.

My neighbor, would like some ideas about how to convince her adult daughter to leave the grandaughters with her nearly all the time, as well as just general ideas to help the girls get the health and stability they will need.

I would like to offer some ideas to her, and maybe even come up with some great information that might help assuage her fears of getting the US gov. involved.


The grandmother has decided that talking to the pediatrician about it and encouraging a report by her is a good idea. One of the girls has already been in last week for a cold and rash and they are supposed to go back in for a follow-up on the rash tomorrow. Thanks. It was a combination of comments and answers that inspired this idea, so I wish I could "accept" all the comments and answer that helped. We'll see how it goes from here.

Final Update

The grandchildren are now living with grandma on a permanent basis and their mother only has monthly visitation rights once she has completed rehab successfully (for now).

  • 2
    If her daughter needs 'convincing' I don't think there's an easy fix here. She's obviously not willing to come to terms with her issues. Social Services might be the right choice here.
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 7:33
  • 2
    I meant the grandmother needs a little "convincing" to submit a report. From the "hearsay" I am given through the mom, the daughter is a lost cause - at least for now. Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 23:25
  • I'm glad she's going to talk to the mandated reporter. :) Sounds like the grandmother is watching out for them. Best wishes to the whole family!
    – 5un5
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 3:27

2 Answers 2


You or your neighbor should definitely contact an authority. You've described child neglect which is reportable to authorities. To not report it would cause harm and could lead to worse problems.

Because there is concern about (abuse or) neglect, a trained professional, such as a doctor or fireman, should be called. One way to deal with this would be to call the childrens' pediatrician-- or any pediatrician-- or even 911 in the US to help. The other way is to call the National Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

The role of the authorities is to assess the situation and determine the way to protect the children. Most authorities try for kinship care-- placement of the children with a close family member. The methodology of their assessment and decision making is locally controlled. But a delay in reporting is universally dangerous to the children.

Delay in reporting known neglect is considered neglectful, so a report should be made as soon as possible. The sooner your neighbor reports the neglect, the more likely she is to see her grandchildren again.

http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/manda.cfm I don't know what state you're in, but every state has a reporting system: such as http://www.dshs.wa.gov/ca/safety/abusereport.asp

It is critical that you or she arrange for an assessment, for the sake of these children.

  • 2
    You don't need names or addresses; you can refer the service providers who can help to your neighbor for that, anonymously if you choose. See childwelfare.gov/responding/how.cfm or call 1-800-422-4453 for details.
    – 5un5
    Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 15:08
  • 2
    I know, However, it wouldn't be anonymous (aren't enough people that know to make it so) - as she is doing, I'm trying to help without ruining the relationship - I think she sometimes takes the kids to a pediatrician, I'm think I'm going to suggest she ask the pediatrician to do the actual reporting. Might feel less threatening to her - especially since she is very likely the person that would be granted custody in the end. Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 15:16
  • 2
    When I was a teacher and needed to report on a similar case, there were enough other teachers that it was actually anonymous. That just isn't the case here. The grandmother has the girls for a couple of weeks right now, so I currently know them to be safe and hope to help the grandmother decide to report (or, inspired by your answer, a third party such as the pediatrician) before the kids have to go back to their mom's. Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 23:28
  • 3
    uh, fireman? Really? Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 3:48
  • 1
    Yes, firestations are key first responder sites that serve as Safe Surrender locales. See babysafe.ca.gov Check your state...
    – 5un5
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 8:47

With this story it needs to be reported. The infections that the children are having are a bacterial infection which isn't good. I know this as my step-son is in the same area with the way his mother looks after him.

Depending how old your neighbour is, they will do something called kinship care if she is deemed suitable for it. But generally (depending on the severity of a case) children are placed in relatives care first.

If she chooses not to do this, the neighbour should gather enough information as she can, and seek legal advise and custody of the children.

But even in court, it is a much more expensive battle and the judge will still ask "why didn't you contact the authorities if your that concerned"

These kids need the help, or something more sinister could happen. If your neighbour is concerned enough, then she would know exactly what to do. My recommendation is to definitely contact authorities. Whether it's Police for a welfare check, which they will have to report to human services, or just ring human services straight off of the bat.

Those kids NEED love, care, routine and an appropriate diet. That won't happen if they stay where they are.

  • Welcome to the community and thanks for your contribution. Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 16:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .