43 answers

Home Alone - Desert Hot Springs,CA

I have a friend that just told me that she is leaving her four kids at home alone, in the middle of no where, at night. Both her and her man are working the night shift. Her oldest is ten and her youngest is three. This is distressing to me. When they came over to my house a couple months ago, they told me the three year old is a bad sleeper during the night and likes to wander the house. The have also mentioned in the past a pack of wild dogs near their house and that they don't let the kids play outside because of it. I feel like they are either going to lose the three year old to some horrible accident or the older kids are not going to get enough sleep to go to school the next day.
My questions are, How old would your kids have to be to be comfortable leaving them alone? Am I crazy to think this is stupid? I know she needs the money, cause they are always dirt poor, but still. Should I confront her?
Should I call CPS? I don't want the kids in foster care, but I really think she is endangering them.
Or should I just leave it alone and be grateful that it is not my kid? She has no family to help, but she has a friend that is close and maybe could spend the night....

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I talked to my friend and told her I was really worried that they were home alone, and she kind of blew me off, 'I am not happy with it either, but the man's work keeps changing the shift on him. He is suppose to be working day shift which is what he signed up for, but they are jerking him around... We have hopes that he will get a day shift soon.'
CPS called back and said that there is no law that says they can't leave the kids alone, and that most likely the case will never be opened. At least I know I tried. i thought about taking the kids, but I don' t have a vehicle set up for 5 especially with two in car seats, and we live more than half an hour away. they are planning to move closer, and if they do, I will definitely be having the kids over more than she is awarem, though I will always tell her before I take them, obviously.

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I would definitely call CPS. Leaving children that age alone through the night while they are at work is neglect. Period. You have the chance to save a child's life. Please don't wait until something terrible happens when you could do something to save them right now.

Talk to the mother maybe there is some one in the area who could spend the nitht for a few dollares you are ritght to be concerned A. no hills

Holy cow!!! Am I wrong, or is this illegal????? If it were my friend, I would tell her that she needs to find someone to sleep there with them because it's illegal and she could get charged with child endangerment or neglect!!

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you know what, i'll just say this. i hope each and every one of you gets caught in your worst parenting moment by someone as heartless as yourselves and cps gets called and your kids get taken away. then maybe you'd wish someone actually gave you a hand up instead of instantly judging. i am literally sick to my stomach reading all of this.

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Hi R., You should have not called CPS. it sounds like their live's are hard enough as it is. I would have had those kids camping out in my family room before i would have called CPS. The three year old can be trained to not wonder at night. CPS isn't for hard working parents who keep their kids in from danger from dogs. I pray next time you see how you can help before calling CPS on someone. For you know her 10 year old may be very responsible and reliable. My first born would have been, he started baby siting for people when he was 12. J. L,


Hi R., You should have not called CPS. it sounds like their live's are hard enough as it is. I would have had those kids camping out in my family room before i would have called CPS. The three year old can be trained to not wonder at night. CPS isn't for hard working parents who keep their kids in from danger from dogs. I pray next time you see how you can help before calling CPS on someone. For you know her 10 year old may be very responsible and reliable. My first born would have been, he started baby siting for people when he was 12. J. L,

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It really is unbelievable what some parents think as acceptable. Leaving young children alone is nuts, imo. In an emergency, would they be able to respond rationally? I don't think so. Plus, it puts them at risk for predators. A neighbor leaves her son, who is 8, alone for a while in the afternoon before she gets home for work. I considered calling CPS. Now I know that CPS won't do anything, according to your info. Pray that those children will be alright.

That is child neglect. You are in a tough spot but they cannot do this. Something horrible could happen to those kids and if it did you would never forgive yourself if you did nothing. It's sad that they feel they need to resort to this but they must explore other options and CPS can help with this. Leaving young kids alone all night is not right and probably not legal.

I'm sure that was very normal in the fifties and sixties. Are you willing to help or just judge? We are way to judgmental in this society. If you call CPS you are not a friend. I hope you pray for the safety of these children and pray about your motives before reporting this to cps. They wont do anything but disrupt that home and tear it down. God Bless! J.

you should report this to cps because it is negelect the 10year old isn't old enough to look after a 3 year old. and besides that a 10 year old isn't even old enough to be left home by themselfs i don't know what the law is in the states but here in canada parents are not aloud to leave there kids home alone until they are 12 but it is only for a hour they are able to stay alone for longer when they are 14

She is endangering them. You and I both know this. What sad is that she knows this too. She has put this reponsibily on you. She is not a friend by doing this. Because now you are upset because you know in your heart the correct thing to do. If anything ever happen to them kids you would feel terrible. Tell someone that doesn't have any connection to you and her that you can trust and let them tell the authority. A good parent puts kids first no matter what


I'm uncomfertable leaving my 15 yr old alone with my 2, 4 & 5 yr olds... I have in the past for an emergency. I had to take daddy to the ER, but we were only gone for about 1 1/2 hours, I had the cell phone on me, and the ER is only about 2 block or less then 2 min from my house. If need be we can walk to it.

I just had a similar conversation w/ my hubby just the other day... a lady down the road left her 2 yr old at home alone to walk her other son about 3 blocks to school. And another lady in the neighborhood leaves her 1 yr old to do the samething. I don't feel comfertable leaving my kids in the house alone and having my house out of my view... I have gone to the neighbors to help them w/ something when the kids are napping, but I stay outside where I can see the door to my house. I also have an alarm on my house that will go off if the doors or windows are opened... and the company calls my cell phone to let me know the alarm was set off.

I'm not sure what you should do... but I do feel you have a reason to be concerned & up set about it. I understand they may need the $ - I don't know many parents of 4 that don't, but the first priority should be the kids not the $. I also know it's not easy to work different shifts then the guy you love, but to make sure the kids are safe - you have to do what you have to.

I think if you did call on them - the kids would be removed from the home if the situation doesn't change.

Good luck!!!

I agree with the posters who said to check the laws in your state. I did just that (in CA) and the lady at CPS said there is NO age limit as to when a child can be left alone. She even read the statue to me. Basically the only rule is that the child is able to feed him/herself, know basic safety rules, can reach mom or dad (i.e. cell phone), and how to notify authorities (911) in case of emergency. That is why some children are latch-key kids. I guess the reasoning is that some 10-year olds are more capable than some 20+ year old babysitters (something I've encountered!). However, I don't know remember the law for leaving siblings at home together. I encourage EVERY mom to check the laws for their state before they are faced with any such situation. But regardless of law, it's best to use GOOD JUDGEMENT! Please help your friend to see what you see. Show her love and concern for her and her children. I bet she'll make other plans.

I agree that it isn't right. However, I think you should try to talk to the mom again before going straight to CPS. Offer some constructive suggestions, such as hiring a night nanny, explaining the situation to her boss and asking for a different shift, enlisting other family members or friends to take turns staying with the kids at night, etc.
Going straight to CPS will ruin their lives. You should at least try to help her work out a better situation before going to the authorities. Don't wait long, but maybe offer to help out for a week or so while she searches for more permanent help.

Good luck,

Ummm, for as horrible as it is to 'rat a friend out', the priority should be and has to be these children..... 4 kids home alone with the "oldest" being 10 and the baby 3? I don't even think it is legal, which is a secondary issue to the moral and physical neglect of her kids. She and the father need to make changes and put these children's welfare first!
Just my opinion.

Well first and foremost I will be praying for this family - my goodness I cannot imagine what these poor children must be going through!

Im not too sure what you should do to be honest. What do you think would happen if you confronted her about it? Would she be angry?

I know if I were in their shoes i would NEVER allow my little ones be to home alone all night long - what if there was a fire, a break in, an accident, a thunderstorm, etc??? I can understanding needing the money but I cannot imagine getting it at this cost. I cant understand why this mother or father couldn't request a different shift - that way they could just be on opposite shifts so that the children will be cared for, especially at night time.

I would hate for this family to be investigated and stuff -but it would be even worse if you say nothing and something happens to one of their precious babies. I have had to bury a child ( we lost our 5 month old daughter after a long batter with health problems) - no parent should EVER have to do that - but this also means you have to protect your children at any cost!!

I will be praying for you too as you are in a hard position - just keep those little ones first in your heart and mind...before you make a decision.

Keep us updated.

God bless

CALL CPS IMMEDIATELY!! The only thing that really matters is that young children are being left unsupervised. You will never be able to forgive yourself, even if your friend forgives herself, if something happens to any or all of them and you would never want to put the oldest in the position where they are responsible for harm falling upon the younger ones. PLEASE CALL CPS AND REPORT THIS! I know it's hard, being your friend, but you have to think of the children!

KIDS FIRST. this is very dangerous I have issues with the 10 year old home alone all night let alone the 3year old thats just down right stupid. anything could happen. if she is that irresponsible she does not deserve those children. help those kids. the 10 year old is going to grow up way to fast! And that poor 3year old how can he sleep under that stress. he could wake up hungry and digest something he could unlock the door and go outside he could start a fire. pray they dont have a gas stove or furnace.
Im going to pray for those kids right now!!!

Someone needs to be a voice and an advocate for these kids. The parents are clearly endangering these kids. There are people who pay $$$$ for DOGGIE DAYCARE so their pets don't stay home alone all day. I think you should feel accountable to do something since you are aware of the situation. Please do the right thing. Some people don't deserve the kids God gave them. This sounds like two of them to me.

Hello, This is child neglect. I cannot imagine what would happen if the younger child got out. Also, what if someone broke in. One of them needs to go to work during a different shift. I would talk to them and remind them that there are many things which could happen. This must also be scary for the children. If talking to them doesn't seem to make any difference, you might have to call C.P.S. Or you might just call them if you already know what their reaction to you talking to them will be.
Thank you for being such a caring person.
K. K.

I haven't read most of the other responses, but I did read some, and your "what happened" post. If she moves closer, and you are able to take the kids overnight, please never do it without their mother's knowledge! Just a few of the ways that would be a bad idea: you'd be dishonest; you'd be teaching the kids to be dishonest; you'd be putting the idea in the kids' heads that their parents don't care about them; the parents would be unable to find the kids in an emergency; and most seriously, taking children from their home without permission of the parents could result in kidnapping charges against YOU!

Keep in mind that one of the ways child molesters set kids up is by telling them that it's OK to keep secrets from parents, and often they choose frightened or troubled kids and tell them, "I love you so much more than your parents do." If you teach these kids that it's OK to sneak out of their house, and spend the night somewhere without telling their parents, the next time someone ELSE suggests that to them, it won't seem odd or inappropriate. They will assume that the other situation is safe, because you would have taught them that going with someone in secret is safer than being at home. It's a crazy world out there, and even if we mean well, we shouldn't do something that might backfire.

Back to the original question, the reason that CPS doesn't put a number on how old kids must be to be alone or in charge of a sibling is that it depends entirely on the child or children in question. Both growing up and now as a parent, I've seen responsible 7 and 8 year olds who could be left in charge of siblings without an issue, and I've seen much older kids who figured that the absence of adults was an invitation to break every rule and engage in risky behavior. Cub Scout and Girl Scout books start covering babysitting topics with kids as young as 7, so they'll be prepared when and if they're needed. I started babysitting for other families (I'm the youngest child in mine) when I was 11. I've hired 11 year old sitters for my kids. I've also had 15 and 16 year old sitters that I never asked back (one left a baby in the same diaper the whole time, so she had a bleeding rash by the time I got home).

Don't worry too much about things like wild dogs. Yes, we need to be aware and cautious about any wild animal, even chipmunks or squirrels, but coyotes and the like are far more likely to run away than to attack a child. Anything they consider too big and healthy to be easy prey, they leave alone. If a family lived in the woods, you'd be wasting energy if you worried that bears or mountain lions would get into the house and attack them at night; this is the same type of situation. It sounds as if they're reasonably aware and cautious when they need to be.

It's good that you're trying to be a good friend, and a protector of children, but we all need to be very careful not to assume that all parents need to do everything the same way. No two families are the same. Even within a family, what worked with one child may not work for another. Doing things differently is OK.

I believe it's illegal to leave children unattended like this, and actually falls under the category of neglect. If it were me, I would have a compassionate conversation with her, explain it from my (and the legal) point of view, and tell her that I am concerned enough to consider calling the authorities if things don't change.

You might want to think about how you would feel if something DID happen while both of them were working, and you had done nothing to intervene to try and prevent it. For me, the guilt would be overwhelming...

You might want to research what resources are available to her (including welfare, etc.) and go to her with some suggestions. Sometimes, people just don't know what to do or what resources are available to them. So doing the legwork for her could be a gift to her.

Good luck with your decision.

I would confront her. If she's the kind of person to blow suggestions off, you need to become blunt (not rude), and state the facts without any kind of soft, embellished coating. I would tell her that if she doesn't take steps in the right direction for help for her children, you will call CPS, because you are concerned for her kids. She may hate you for a while, but stay on top of it. Check in when you can. You job at that point is to protect the children. Good luck to you.

I totally agree, this is NOT okay. But! Please talk to your friend before you report her! This sounds like a desperate and VERY misguided attempt to provide for her family.....she is definitely not thinking clearly and if this continues there is no doubt the kids are in danger. Tell her she needs to stop today, and help her figure out an alternative. If she doesn't stop leaving them immediately, THEN report her.

It is amazing to see what people will do these days to earn money in this horrible economy to try and support their families. Being financially burdened sometimes pushes us to the point that we do unimaginable things in order to survive. I think that the stress, hardship, and burden has clouded your friends judgment and she needs someone like you to set her straight. Tell her EXACTLY what you told us and see what she says. If things don't change, then yes, you will need to call CPS. Like many of the others posted, anything can happen at night. Last week a car drove through my neighbor's living room at 2 a.m....just a freak accident and I thank god I was home and able to call for help and no one was seriously injured. Now this is a freak accident, just think of all the other things that happen at night...it's scary...you are totally right to be concerned. Please let us know what happens.


I would never leave my children alone like that. I was a latchkey kid when my parents worked from the age of about 10 I think. But that was 25 yrs ago. And my mother would never have left me in charge of my little sister. And never at night. I let myself in after school only. These days, I can't imagine even doing that. My first instinct is to say call the authorities, but unfortunately I know that putting them into the system would not necessarily be any better. I would honestly not care too much about losing the friend, I could not imagine being able to be friends the same way after knowing something like this. I would definitely say something to her, and let her know that it is not ok. She is absolutely endangering them. And it's not legal, I am fairly sure. There are other job options, even for people with no education and such. The parents need to work opposite shifts if they can't afford daycare, or one of them needs to work two jobs. There has to be another option, especially if it is just to have someone spend the night. I feel so badly for you that you have to make a decision like this. Let us know what you decide.

As a social worker, I have to tell you that this is totally neglect and endangerment. Please call DCFS (1-800-540-4000. DCFS does not remove kids right away, automatically unless it is very severe. Please think about the kids. At the least, someone will know of her situation and DCFS can give her resources to help her with the kids.

Please make sure CPS documents your concerns so there is a paper trail. You also should make a note on your calendar when you called and who you spoke to.

Report it!!!!!!!!!! If something happened to the children you would never be able to forgive yourself. Leaving young children alone all night is irresponsible and neglectful. What if there were a fire!! Those children would all perish. I can't imagine parents being so neglectful. I know times are tough and parents have to work, but there is not excuse for leaving them alone all night.

I agree this is a very dangerous situation! I have a very responsible 16 y.o. and a responsible 13 y.o. and I would not leave them home alone over night. I leave them during the day but would never at night.
It sounds as if they are desperate. It sounds as if you are more than willing to lend a hand and let these children stay overnight........I think make the offer and if they refuse, than you would have to step it up and make sure these children are save.
I can not remember what is the legal age for leaving children home alone. I know that it is at the least 10, but I don't think it is to leave them with younger children.
Good luck, you are not crazy!

"A general rule of thumb is that kids under age seven aren't capable of thinking logically and putting cause and effect together," Tanner said. "They are reliant on caregivers to structure their day." Children between ages 7 and 10 years aren't generally ready to self-supervise for an extended period, but in a routine and predictable environment, such as just after school, they can manage, Tanner said. Children 12 and 13 years old should be judged on a case- by-case basis but should not be left alone overnight." (http://www.latchkey-kids.com/latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm)

Perhaps you should talk to her about the risks (fire, earthquake, etc). Don't be judgemental, show concern for the kids. Maybe make some recommendations on how to remedy the situation.

If that doesn't work, then yes, you should contact CPS. I doubt they will take the children away. They generally try to work with the family. Explain what they are doing wrong and offer ways to fix it. They will only take the kids away if she continues to disregard and/or neglect.

In my opinion, any child under the age of 18 should not be left home alone overnight. My kids are 17, 14, and 7 - and I would not leave them home alone all night.

Good luck!

I applaud you for showing your love and concern. It's seems that they are being left alone so that the parents can go to work and provide for their family- THIS is not neglect. This might not be the best answer, but has anyone stopped to think about how the parents might be feeling? Being in this situation? It might not feel right to them either, you know... people don't know what it's like until it happens to them. Life is tough. And just so you know, I'm writing this flipping the coin b/c I've never been through this or can even imagine. I just feel sorry for them especially when so many are privileged and so ready to poing the finger. It's so nice of you to be willing to help out. Maybe they can get some community assistance.
God bless.

No this is absolutely not right at all. A 10 yr old should not be left alone , especially overnight and in charge of other kids. I do not know what to tell you to do , this is your call unfortunately , but something needs to be done for the sake of those poor kids. I think if I were in this situation right now and a friend of mine had kids that age at home all alone I would go to the house and get them so that I knew they were safe , I would not be able to sleep knowing they were all by themselves....after that I do not know , I know for a fact though that I would be so mad with the parents for doing this and putting me in this posistion but I can understand that you do not want to be responsible for these kids being taken into care.

I hope you work it out

I think as a friend you owe it to her to confront her and suggest some possible solution as well as pointing out the possible consequences. She trusts you enough to share this information with you. Maybe she too is afraid and needs a wake up call out of denial. This is too scary. Something must be done for the sake of the children. I think the minimum age legally required to babysit is 13...and that is for a few hours in the day...I have never heard of leaving children alone at night....Maybe you can suggest that she ask the friend who is close to help. Sometimes you are put in tough situations in life to intervene and help prevent possible calamities. It takes courage to stand up. The fact that this bothers you shows you want to do something about it.

Talk to the mother maybe there is some one in the area who could spend the nitht for a few dollares you are ritght to be concerned A. no hills

wow, hot topic....to me this is neglect. My mom was single, had a handicapped daughter, worked graveyard shift in refineries, lived with us in low income housing, was on the run from a violent ex-husband, had to have us in shelters at times and through all that we NEVER spent a night alone. I am not trying to judge her only say what I think is true. I think there must be other stuff going on because leaving young kids alone is just not a solution that many people would think acceptable. Since this is your good friend I think encouraging her to find some kind of work that allows someone to be home at night would be good. Of course I don't want to see anyone lose their kids and since CPS doesn't seem to prioritize it anyway I might talk to my friend about the real danger of someone watching the house and harming the kids when they are away. I know the area is remote but drifters etc pass through at times. I am definitely going to pray for those kiddos for safety and that they make it through fine and that mom and dad realize the danger they are putting their kids in. I think you are an awesome friend for wanting to let all those kids stay with you!

You are not crazy to think this is stupid because it is. It's also selfish. Her first responsibility is for the safety of her children. I understand needing the money, but she needs to figure something else out. I'd confront her first before calling CPS on her. It sounds like she's about at the end of her rope and doing what she thinks is best, but obviously she's not thinking straight. I'd love to take a night shift job and an opportunity just came up, but I can't take it without hiring someone to come in at night. My husband is here, but he's got health issues and doesn't wake up when the babies do. No way will I leave my 5 year old daughter and one year old twins home alone with just him at night. I'd love the other shift because it would allow me to get a lot of things done, but I know that it wouldn't be safe for my kids. I can't be selfish and do what I want to do....that's what parenting is about. You (the parent) doesn't always come first anymore. When it comes to the safety and well-being of the kids, they HAVE to be the priority. Hopefully you can offer some suggestions when you confront her so she doesn't get defensive and feel attacked. Approach it from the angle of concern and wanting to help her and she'll be more likely to take it to heart. Good luck, and you're great for getting involved. The kids need it.

Man, I get scared still being home alone at night and I'm almost 35. I know its sometimes very tragic and scary for kids when the police or protective services are called, but I imagine its already very scary for them right now. I'm just wondering if you can do a phone call to the police asking for a "well visit" check on the kids on a night you know that they'll be home alone (and ASAP, IMO). The police can then intercede and contact the additional proper authorities themselves, while at the same time looking our for those kids immediately. I'm not sure what the protocol is for CPS, but am wondering how long it would take them to get someone out there to assist these poor kids.

Honestly, the fact that mom mentioned it to you with very little apparent shame, mom and dad sound as if they feel totally justified in doing this and maybe a visit from police or protective services will wake them up.

Good luck with the decisions you make....I'm sure it will be hard for you no matter what.

If you so concerned why don't you help that family. Children need to eat and have a roof under their heads. I think it is great they try to make money to support them, however it is very irresponsible to leave them alone. I feel sorry for those families who have to work so hard.
If I where you I would talk to their mother not to CPS or some other organizations... Sorry we have enough homeless and children with out their parents....If you where a kid would you lose your parents or sleep at night alone....Think about it .....

Sadly....this is not a good thing. Ten years old is not old enough to watch other children. If the child was 13 and up maybe but this doesn't sound good. Have you talked to them about them finding someone to watch them?One of them may have to switch to day shift. As Parents this is what we have to do to make sure our children are ok. Also, your not crazy.She could ask her friend to help. What is the worse she will say no.I can understand the poor part that doesn't make things easy.Perhaps as a friend I would talk to her first and brain storm with her on what to do. If after that she does nothing CPS may have to be called. I hate to see you go that route though but if the school finds out they will call CPS. On that note something they need to ask themselves what is more important money or their kids? With me I would switch shifts.Good luck ....you are in a rock and a hard place there.Hope things work out.

I suggest you go to your friend with some information that supports what you are going to say to her. First of all, get printed information about what the legal age is in your area about children staying home alone, without an adult in the home, not a friendly neighbor but IN the home. The YMCA may have something like that if not then check with CPS. If you can't show her in black and white that she is breaking the law then she may not belieive you. Remind her what could happen if there is a fire, what about a freak storm, shat about a break in?

Can you offer to have the kids at your home? What about working out a trade plan? Maybe she could clean your house for babysitting or mow for you, a friend and I swap housecleaning jobs and it really works for us, I hate washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen and she thinks laundry in the most horrid job of all.

I believe the youngest a child is "legally" able to be old enough and stay home alone in my area is 10, and the youngest they can watch others is 12 or 14. The YMCA had offered classes to kids to be more responsible and then how to watch others kids, it was like a prebabysitting class.

Holy cow!!! Am I wrong, or is this illegal????? If it were my friend, I would tell her that she needs to find someone to sleep there with them because it's illegal and she could get charged with child endangerment or neglect!!

Age doesn't have much to do with it when it comes to babysitting. It really has to do with maturity. If the 10 year old is mature enough to watch the kids, then that's not a big deal. However, most 10 year olds are not. And I wouldn't leave the kids alone at night. That's just dangerous. Even if the 10 year old is mature enough, he/she isn't strong enough to stop anyone who might break into the house. I would defiinitely talk to your friend and tell her that she is endangering her children's lives by leaving them alone at night like that. I would suggest alternatives that she could do instead of leaving them alone. Hire a baby sitter, ask a friend. Maybe you could even volunteer to help her out sometimes. If she continues to leave them home alone, then I would tell her that what she's doing isn't right or safe and you'll have to call the police/CPS if she does it again. I'm against kids going into foster care when they obviously have loving and caring parents. But what this woman is doing is just too dangerous. She is risking the lives of her children.

I would definitely call CPS. Leaving children that age alone through the night while they are at work is neglect. Period. You have the chance to save a child's life. Please don't wait until something terrible happens when you could do something to save them right now.

I think Marda has the right suggestions for you. When I was a freshman in H.S I got mono. I was home for about 3 weeks. Both parents worked. So I would be alone till my sis came home at 3:30. Someone broke into our house during the day, the cops felt they had watched the house for maybe a week and never noticed a second child, me, because I was sick in bed for weeks. So they thought it was an easy in and out. I heard noise downstairs thought maybe my mom came home early and walked in to 2 large men. Luckily for me they were so surprised to find some one home even if it was a 13 year old that they knocked past me and out the door. What I am trying to say is anything can happen anytime. But if others, criminals or anyone up to no good, know these children are alone they could be in a lot of danger. Talk to her let her know your concerns. Maybe you are the only one who knows and therefore you think if you did call in to CPS they would know it is you. You are in a tricky spot. Do you llive nearby where they can drop the kids off to you just to sleep and pick them up in the a.m? Or know any responsible people who are looking to earn a little more during these hard times and would sleep over for the kids? Maybe if they have to both work at night they could change days? So at least 4 nights a week there is a parent at home and the other 3 they can get help? I know you say they are struggling financially and maybe can't afford to pay monetarily but like another post said maybe they can barter. But safety first and foremost and you should definitly share your concerns. Best of luck to all of you.

In my neighborhood we had a mom who would leave the kids at home alone during the night and we, the neighbors, didn't call. We all turned our heads. We suspected that the 11 year old was taking care of a baby, 6 months and a 3 year old Down's child in the middle if the night. But we just didn't bother.
I had the kids at my house for a weekend and the mom told me how her daughter was so helpful and so good.
Well let me tell you. I had those kids in my house for 2 hours and her 11 year old was gone. She went upstairs and played. She played with all our toys and didn't help me at all. She wanted to be a child. My own 12 year old helped with all the baby stuff and 3 year old stuff. .
THis woman didn't bring me enough diapers or formula and the daughter wouldn't help at all. She was 11 years old and already burnt out.
She was overwhelmed. There is no way a child of 10, 11, or 12 should ever be in charge of little children overnight.
After the mom picked up her 4 kids from my house, the next week the father came home from deployment and asked us why no one ever called the authorities. The mother had been leaving the kids at home all deployment. He returned and she filed for divorce.
We as a neighborhood felt so bad.
So I would call.

She has put you in a horrible position. It will be so difficult for you to say anything, but what if you don't say anything and something tragic happens to those children (fire, accident, break-in, etc.). How would you feel if you hadn't said anything? I think if I were you, I would have to say something to her. Then I would check to be sure she wasn't still leaving them alone, and if she was I would turn her in. You may lose a friend over it, but you may be saving some children at the same time. I'm sorry you are in such a rotten position.

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