3.23.2009

What Would You Do?

"Latchkey kid or latchkey child refers to a child who returns from school to an empty home because his or her parents are away at work, or a child who is often left at home with little or no parental supervision." ~Wikipedia

Today my neighbors kids knocked on my door. As my husband opened the door I thought "again?"

These 2 sweet girls have knocked on my door quite a few times, every time with a different story:

door was locked
phone was missing
lost the spare key

This time the reason was that the phone was dead. Hum.... I didn't buy it. Their mom is a single mother who works crazy hours and is NEVER home. I offered them an ice cream sandwich, they refused. They used our phone and went back out into the dark night. 30 minutes later the door bell rings and it's those adorable little faces again. "Can we use your phone, I think we dialed the wrong number" YES, anything you guys need!!! Again I offer them some food and if they want to stay inside and watch a movie with us, again they refuse. "We'll be alright."

When they called whomever I got more of the story:

"Mom didn't pay the phone bill again, do you know where she is? OK, I understand... No we'll be fine. When will she be home? Oh... can you come pick us up? No? Oh I see, yeah we can sleep here alone tonight. Thanks anyway, Bye."

WHAT?! Are you kidding me? I am just supposed to send them out my door and act all cool with these kids being left alone all the time? I do keep an eye on the place, but this is just ridiculous! My parents used to work long hours, and I often let myself in after school. But I always knew where they were or how to reach them in case of an emergency. And they NEVER just left me over night!


My heart breaks for them, what would you do?

Ta Ta for now

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13 fabulous comments:

alicew said...

Hi Lizzie,
That is soooo sad, and so wrong! Actually, if it were me...I would probably call someone to have the situation checked out. It really is neglect and kids shouldn't have to go through that (my psychology BA kicking in here). I will pray for those girls and hope they get the love and care they need...and yes...just keep looking out for them!

And thanks for your sweet words on my blog!

nikkicrumpet said...

YIKES...how old are these kids??? If they are too young to spend the night alone then I'd call Child services. Kids deserve to feel safe and loved...and to have food on the table and someone to tuck them into bed. This is just wrong and their mom needs a swift kick in the butt! I was a single mom with three kids for 13 years. So I know how hard it is. But no matter how hard it is there is NO excuse for child neglect. UGH with all the women in the world who would kill for the chance to be a mom and can't...it sickens me when I see a mother who just doesn't give a shit.

Yaya said...

That's so sad. I have too big of a heart and would insist they stayed with us.

My husband was raised that way since he was 7-his mom working nights and he was the sole care taker for his little brother. It is not a fun life. Those poor girls.

dood1ebugs said...

HAve you talked to the mom? I definatly think you should call someone. There was a stiry on the news this moring in NC where a mom left the kids at home alone while she went to work and the 9 year old daughter got hurt with life threatening injuries. They didn't go into details but anything could happen. We will pray for them and for you.

lifeinbeverlyhills said...

I was wondering the same thing - how old are these girls? Very sad story. Being the person I am, I'd get involved if they are too young to stay home alone all night. If they are teenagers - different story...

Please keep us posted.

Mom24 said...

So sad. I don't think there's anything more you can do. Be friendly, be available, but you can't make them stay, you can't talk to their mom, it's likely to lead to her telling them not to come to you again.

I know by experience that calling children's services won't do any good. They consider are they clean, do they have a place to live, do they have food to eat? Unfortunately, with the foster system as flawed as it is, there's not always a better alternative. Poor babies.

fraizerbaz said...

Lizzie,

Have a heart to heart with their mom, first. Tell her that you are concerned for their safety. She probably isn't able to make ends meet, and is carrying a heavy load. I hate to make the assumption that she is out partying it up all night. She very well could be working two jobs, and can't afford child care.

I would probably end up volunteering to supervise them while their mom isn't home. That's just me. I don't know how old they are, but they should never be left alone overnight. What if there is a fire??? Or an intruder???

If their mother rejects your efforts, then call CPS. But you should definitely get the mother's story first.

Debbie said...

I missed how old they were. If they are really too young to be alone, I'd call the authorities. You really have to.

Kelly said...

Oh dear. This story breaks my heart. I wish I had the perfect solution for you. I don't have any experience with CPS, but I think that it would be better to call them rather than doing nothing. In the meantime, continue to be a safe place for the girls to turn to.

Shannah said...

AS a previous poster said, unfortunately you can't really rely on CPS to do anything. They are woefully mismanaged, understaffed and overworked. If there is no obvious sign of physical or sexual abuse, the kids wouldn't even show up on their radar. You would likely only alienate the kids even more, as their mom would tell them not to come to your home. Very sad situation.

You might try to work something out with the mother and/or some of the other people in your neighborhood to watch them.

By the way, I'm late for VGNO. Thanks for visiting me Friday. Best of luck with the kids.

♥spoiled mommy♥ said...

Oh wow!!
I would have probably made the kids stay with me, then when the mother went looking for them-if she did i would have a talk with her. thats so sad. my heart breaks for them.

American in Norway said...

I have to agree with Mom24.

After hearing/reading horror stories in Foster care... not sure that having them taken away from their mother would be the best option.

What do you think? Do you think she is off partying/ with boyfriends...or do you think she is working several jobs to keep a roof over their heads?

I think the best thing you can do..is be the safe place for the girls to know they can come... if you upset the mother... she may tell them NOT to go to you for help.

I can not imagine leaving my 9 year old over night... I have a hard time running to the market for 1/2 hour... (although I was out babysitting when I was his age...)

Maggie said...

Lizzie,
I am Kate's mom, also a social worker. I agree with many of the comments posted, such as yes call child services, but perhaps they won't do anything about it. It does depend on the particular county that you live in. What would happen is that they MUST conduct an investigation to either rule in or rule out neglect. Again this is different for different ages, but no adult supervision overnight counts at any age! They probably wouldn't remove the kids, but they would know of the situation in case another incident happens later on. The would also offer mom whatever resources are available in your area. And most important they would put mom on notice.
The problem with being the kind neighbor and trying to help out, is that you put yourself and your family at great risk for liability if those girls fall or get hurt at your house, or have a food reaction to anything that you feed them.
A compromise would be to talk with mom and tell her you are concerned, and even considered calling child services, but wanted to see if this was a temporary situation for her and the girls.
there is no right answer here.
Margaret