not sure what to do about neglected niece and nephew

Hi, I don't know who to talk to and if i can talk to anyone about my nieces and nephew. They're 6, 3, 18 months, and 2 months, and living in their grandparents' house with their dad and uncle. Their grandparents are whorders, my 18 month old nephew seems to be on the spectrum, and he's constantly putting little objects in his mouth. My in-laws have told me that he's nearly choked a couple of times, and they leave him unsupervised for hours in front of the tv in a back room. They only get him when there's a loud bang because he's fallen off the couch and knocked a lamp over. They also fill the tub to the brim every day and put him in for hours, according to the father, and they leave him alone in there! Seriously, no one is watching him. I witnessed all of this today when we visited for Christmas. The baby 2-month-old girl is often ignored as she cries. When i picked her up, her father told me i needed to let her cry. Who lets a 2-month-old cry! They just leave her in a swing with a bottle, so she's sucking in air. I asked about that, and her dad just dismissed me and said, "yeah, she's gassy and burpy all the time anyway, so it doesn't make any difference". The little baby's head is so flat in the back too. They just leave her crying by herself in the swing or bassinett most of the time. What do I do? Is thos serious enough to call cps? The 3 and 6 year old are pretty ok, but i really worry about the babies.

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Oh, that is heartbreaking. I think that it sounds like it would be in the best interest of the two youngest children if you call CPS. And if there are neglecting the younger ones there are neglecting the older ones too. I think you should do it. Good luck!

I’m a social worker and this sounds extremely concerning to me. I don’t specialize with CPS work but if I came across this family in my work I would have made a CPS report. Leaving a child that age unattended in the bath and the other things you mentioned need to be reported immediately for the safety of the children. 

I'm not at all familiar with CPS; however, without a doubt, I would say yes! The unsupervised bath time and child falling over and hitting the lamp are the two biggest red flags. I cannot imagine they can ignore that. Please call. Just reading this breaks my heart! 

Your instincts are right to reach out. None of this is OK not even for the 3 and 6 year olds, but the unsurprised babies- that makes me so upset as a mom of a 20 month old. Hoarding is a serious issue and could lead to them investing something toxic. They could drown left alone in a tub, all of this is very serious and dangerous neglect. I would call CPS now, they need to investigate. Honestly it could save one of those children’s lives. 

yes, this is serious neglect/endangerment. A child can drown in 2 inches of water! call CPS right away. They may not do anything (be prepared). Are you able to take them into your home? Would they be willing to place them voluntarily in foster care? get them out of there!

Thank you for caring! 

You do not mention the Mother in your narrative.  Where is she?  If the children are in danger or neglected as you describe and you are not able to take them into your home, it's probably time to call/contact Child Protective Services to do a home visit and check on the welfare of the children.  Is the 6 year old in school yet?  Again, I think a home visit from CPS is in order to check on the kids and see what support they can provide this family.  

You will be getting a ton of replies on this one.   Call CPS now if you have not already, and let them know all this.  Alameda County CPS intake line: 510-259-1800.  I hope the moderator can contact you before these replies go to press.  I wouldn't assume the 3 and 6 year old children are "pretty OK" either.  

Please call CPS right now.

Please call CPS. If something was to happen to the children think about how bad you will feel for not doing anything. Sometimes parents need to wake up!!

I have no real authority or knowledge about CPS here, so maybe I don’t qualify to answer. However, reading your post made my heart hurt for those babies so I just wanted to respond and say if you are looking for validation about your concerns I think you are absolutely right to be worried and elevate this somehow. While it would be maybe hard to prove/justify CPS for the watching too much TV or being in their swings too long (although both make me sad to think about), leaving an 18 month old in a bath for hours (or at all?) unsupervised seems downright negligent. I’m also unclear if you are implying the 2 month old isn’t getting enough food (re: the empty bottles), but if not that is also serious. 

If a child is being left unattended in a bath for "hours", which seems hard to believe, along with the other mind boggling descriptions of neglect, you have a legal obligation to call Child Protective Services and the police. Those children need to be removed from the abusive situation immediately. 

I know the decision to involve CPS can be fraught as CPS involvement is likely to turn this family upside down, and may result in losing the children in the foster care system.  However, based on what you have disclosed, the children are in serious danger due to physical neglect.  I think under those circumstances, you have a moral obligation to notify the proper authorities.  Call the CPS hotline.

Please, please report this situation.

As you describe its awfulness there's at least 'neglect'; but leaving a young child in a tub is also endangerment. Do what you can to save these kids.  Family relations be damned!

About 15 years ago  I  reported the mother of a 9 year old girl. (I was 'sponsoring' the "mother" in a 12 step program- and I use the term loosely since her daughter wasn't even a slight priority) I urged the mother to report her husband, but she did nothing.  She said  that her lawyer, who also knew the details, wanted to get all the ducks in a row so she could get lots of $$ once she filed for divorce-- of course, he'd get a lot of that money.

   Meanwhile, nightly the child was being molested.  Grrr!  Money be damned.  The mother never knew I reported her.  Even so, I ended our relationship.

OMG.  You absolutely must report this to the local authorities.  Here is the link to a website with the reporting numbers for each county.  You do not ultimately have to decide whether this is abuse or neglect rising to a level to require intervention; the experts will evaluate the situation.  But they have to be notified.  Based on your description, I would say it is not even a close question here whether you should make the call.  Make the call.  One or both of these children is going to end up seriously injured or severely developmentally delayed due to this level of neglect, if not worse.  Please be an advocate for these children.  It takes a village.

As the mother of a 7-month-old, reading this made me cry. Based on your description, these children are being neglected and are at risk of injury or death. Alameda County had a Child Abuse Hotline (for situations of abuse or neglect) where a Child Welfare Worker can evaluate the situation you describe and help decide what to do next. Visit

If you are concerned, please call. Agents will evaluate if calls fit the guidelines and can offer assistance. 

Here is the link with contact details:



I'm a specialist who works with the emotional and psychological aftermath of neglect and abuse in children.  This is definitely reportable to CPS.  You can also make an anonymous call to CPS to consult with them about this scenario, and they'll offer you their perspective and take a report if they see fit.  CPS is about providing relevant support services to children and families.  Alameda County CPS: (510) 259-1800.  Your concern is very relevant -  thank you for attuning to the needs of these little ones who don't otherwise have much voice at their age to get what they need. In addition to the serious safety risks present in this scenario, general neglect also has significant negative impact on the emotional and psychological development of children, which will also be expressed behaviorally.  Early intervention is valuable and makes a difference!  Take good care...

Yes - ABSOLUTELY. Call CPS immediately. These children are neglected and in danger. 

Yes, this is serious neglect. You've mentioned a couple of scenarios here that could easily result in the death of a child by neglect--leaving a toddler: unsupervised in a tub, unsupervised with electronics, with small objects that he puts in his mouth. Please, for their safety, call child and family services. These calls do not automatically result in a child being taken from the family. Rather, the agency gathers information and if what you're telling them warrants it, they follow up by contacting the family and taking a look at the situation.  Interventions range from some basic education about how to safely care for a child to the more extreme removal of a child when the child is unsafe AND the adults display an inability to change the situation. But whatever the result of the call, the safety of these children depends on it. Please call. For Contra Costa County call 877-881-1116; Alameda County call 510-259-1800; For San Jose call 408-299-2071; for Palo Alto call 650-493-1186; for San Francisco County call 800-856-5553; for San Mateo County call 1-800-632-4615. Call the county that the child is living in.

Anyone can call CPS. I would do so this is very scary-sounding.

Please call CPS today. The family sounds like they needs structured support with these children and the little ones are being neglected. The goal is CPS is to keep families intact whenever possible. Here is the list of phone numbers by county:

Yes, call CPS immediately. If nothing is truly wrong, then they will investigate and then close the case. If things are wrong (and candidly, it sounds like they are from your description), then CPS will take action, and also may provide resources to help them raise and properly care for the children. Thank you for noticing these issues, and I do hope you contact CPS so they can also evaluate. 

What are you waiting for? Call CPS! Those poor children are suffering and it is only a matter of time until one of them drowns or something terrible happens. It is your duty to help these children.

To Aliceinwonderland:  Those children's lives are in grave danger and I suggest that you contact Alameda Social Services as soon as possible.  The hotline telephone number is (510) 259-1800.  What you describe is a life-threatening situation, so PLEASE ACT QUICKLY.  

Please contact Child Protective Services about the situation. How tragic. Good luck. 

I have worked for CPS for many years and this situation would certainly warrant an investigation in the county I work in. For you or anyone with child protection concerns, please make the call and let the intake worker tell you whether the information you’re providing is reportable. You can ask to remain anonymous if you wish. I hope your nieces and nephews are ok. 

I think you need to call CPS (Child Protective Services) immediately if they're leaving an 18-month old unattended in a bathtub full of water, and leaving a 2-month old unattended in a swing for hours.  Both children seem to be in imminent danger of injury or death.  Please call CPS right away.

Please please please report them to child protective services. The longer you wait the worse it will get. I am a therapist who works with children with developmental delays and I hope that you can help this family get the help they need to care for their kids. It is so important to get the kids support at a young age. Early intervention for autism is especially important, although it seems like maybe the delays you are seeing may be due to neglect which can cause children to look like they have autism. Neglect is abuse and this needs to be reported. Thank you for caring for them. You may change the whole trajectory of their lives if you can get them the help they need.

Yes, this is serious enough. Please report to CPS right away, tell them what you wrote here. They are supposed to investigate. What you describe is absolutely neglect and is endangering these children's lives and health. You are their only voice right now. Please use it. 

call cps.  let them assess whether or not an intervention needs to be made.  leaving a young child alone in the bathtub is cause enough. 

if anyone else has witnessed the same concerning parenting practices, I would encourage you to encourage them to make the report to cps as well.  

Please please call the police or CPS. !!

Go and call/report all of this to CPS. This IS serious enough.  This is so disturbing and makes me want to scream and cry at the same time. These are babies and they need CARE.  This is not about "bad parenting."  This is about an environment that is unsafe, with caretakers who appear to be OK with allowing gross neglect and cruelty to be the norm.  Have them contact this outstanding resource:  Seriously, there is no excuse for this ignorance!

Call CPS. The children are in danger serious danger. 

Hi, I do hope you will report your relatives to Child Protective Services which can help them learn the parenting skills needed here.  If the children need extra help, (and usually 18 months is too early to diagnose autism) they can get it.  Please make the call asap.  

My heart breaks reading your post. Not only is this a neglect but also life endangerment. I can only imagine how hard it would be to report your own family but better that than a potentially seriously hurt child. It's incredibly dangerous for a little kid to be near water unsupervised  - drowning or serious brain damage are not uncommon result