Should I call CPS? Will CPS let a college student care for a child?

Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 06:42 pm
Hello all,

Very long read, I know. I'm sorry, but I didn't really know how else to explain all of this.

I am a 21 year old college student (I turn 22 in a few months.) I live about 7 hours away from my hometown where my family lives. So far, I haven't had to work much because I have a scholarship and get help from FAFSA to pay for school.
Now to the question. I was wondering if I should call CPS on my 22 year old niece. She has three kids, one is 5 (turning six in three months), one if 3 and one is an 8 month old.

The father of the 5 year old has NEVER been around for my nephew's life. NEVER.
The father of the 3 and 8 month old was around their whole lives. He left my niece a number of months ago because they had too many problems. He abused her (according to her) HOWEVER, he seemed to be a great father to all three children. He has always been very responsible in caring for them financially and emotionally and is still a part of their lives.

When my niece first had the 5 year old, she was 16 years old. Her mom (my sister) didn't want her, so she lived with us. My parents supported her and her son. However, she was a HORRIBLE mother at that age. She would always go out to the clubs and leave the child without letting us know. She never fed him properly, she never gave him the attention he needed, she never taught him to speak. At one point, she left for about 2 months without saying anything to us. She left the baby with us so it was up to me and my mom to take care for him. My mom was always working and my father was too, so I was left to care for him most of the time. I was only 16. However, I didn't mind. My nephew became so attached to me that he started calling me mom. And to this day he loves me very much.
Anyway, he was up and down homes for a long time with my niece.
Now that she has the other kids, I'll just say this, she is not the greatest mother to them.

The 5 year old has missed school so many times that the school has threatened to send her to court. She goes out every weekend with her friends to party and she gets home so late, that the next day when she has to take my nephew to school, she doesn't wake up on time. She gets into actual physical fights with other girls when she goes out. She hangs around the wrong crowd and brings them home with her. She also hardly feeds her kids. The 5 year old is so skinny. She is constantly yelling at him and the 3 year old. She spanks them for no reason and puts them through a lot of emotional trauma. She is very neglectful. The 3 year old is about to turn 4 and does not know how to speak one word. All he does is mumble. He has been eating paint off the wall for about a year now. He literally bites the wall to eat the paint. We tell my niece that she needs to stop him from doing that and have him checked up but she insists hes okay.

My niece grew up in a horrible household. She was in and out of foster homes herself and she never had her parents there for her, only my mother (which is her grandmother.) She brings guys in and out of her kids lives and she isn't even sure if the 3 year old is her ex's son. She isn't in a right state of mind. I believe she has serious mental issues she needs to get resolved. She is a pathological liar and has serious anger issues.

We have tried talking to her and asking her to get help for herself so that she can be happy and be a better mother. But she always gets very defensive, starts cursing at us, and even tries to fight us! If we tell her anything, she threatens us with never seeing her kids again if we don't mind our own business.

I am the closest family member to her. I consider her my sister since we grew up so close to each other. I try to talk to her, but I have given up because she is impossible to reason with. Therefore, I ignore any mention of "drama" with her. All I speak with her about is the kids. This summer, her 5 year old is coming to live with me. She has told me plenty of times that if anything were to happen to her, she wants me to take her kids as mine because she trusts me.

My nephew is going to the first grade in the fall, and he doesn't know how to read simple words or write his name. I intend to tutor him this whole summer and catch him up. However, I am so sick and tired of him and his siblings being emotionally abused and neglected. I want to call CPS on her. I know that CPS can place the other two children with their dad, however, my 5 year old nephew has no father in his life. My mother cannot take him in because she is a 62 year old woman who works two full time jobs just to get by for herself.

I am the only other family member that can take him in. I am in the process of finding a job. I am a good student and have two years left to graduate college, but I am willing to take longer if I need to cut down part time to care for my nephew. I am not your normal college student. I don't like to party. I like to stay in and read a book or go to the park with my dogs on the weekends. My nephew also loves my dogs. I am in a stable 3 1/2 year loving relationship. He is also in college and we live in a 2 bedroom townhome. He has a stable full time job and is willing to take my nephew in if need be.

Should I call CPS? I fear that my 3 year old nephew might develop lead poisoning due to eating paint or some other horrible disease. I also think he might have autism. However, my niece doesn't care. I don't want him to get too sick and possibly die on us because she didn't want to take him to the hospital. My niece purposefully does not give us their dads phone number so we wont complain to him about her because she knows he will call CPS on her. We have no idea where he lives, we have no way to get in contact with him.

What do you guys think? I don't want to call CPS unless I know for sure that my nephew can live with me or my mother, and that the other two will be placed with their father. Im sorry this was so long. What will the court need from me to determine that I am capable of caring for my nephew?
Do they need my college transcript? Steady job? If so, how many months? Will the court use anything against me? I am an open non-believe (atheist) and I don't know how that will reflect upon my character to them.
I am a good person. I am trying to make it through college without my parents help. I am trying to become self-sufficient and not become like my siblings (in and out of prison, bad parents, etc.)
Reply Fri 30 May, 2014 07:15 pm
Excellent writeup for a subject that must be hard to describe that well. I'm no expert on CPS - well, a little, also re a family member, but that was now years ago - but I think others here know more about contacting them, the pros and cons (I only see pros, myself).

(welcome to a2k)
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Reply Sat 31 May, 2014 01:12 am
What do you guys think? I don't want to call CPS unless I know for sure that my nephew can live with me or my mother, and that the other two will be placed with their father

I certainly understand your distress regarding the situation with your niece's children, and you would be fully justified in notifying CPS regarding her neglectful behavior--and her neglect encompasses medical neglect, physical neglect, and apparently, educational neglect, if the school has threatened to call CPS.

I'm not sure that you can be assured that CPS will place your nephew with you. For one thing, they might not move to remove the children from her care. The situation you describe is not one in which the children are in imminent danger from her, or one in which they are at serious risk of physical harm by her. It's more of a chronic, long-term, pattern of neglect you describe. They are more likely to remove children who are at high risk due to physical or sexual abuse, or extreme neglect where the children are malnourished or starving, not being bathed and dressed properly, or where the caregiver appears too mentally or emotionally disturbed to care for the children etc.

CPS might choose to intervene in a way that mainly addresses the neglect, but leaves the children in her care, but under their supervision.--they should make sure the children are medically evaluated, and receive ongoing medical care, that they are provided with enough to eat, that the 3 year old receives evaluation for pica (the paint eating), and possible speech delay, make sure the 5 year old attends school regularly, make sure the children are not emotionally abused or subjected to harsh discipline, etc. and if they can provide those sort of interventions, and monitor your niece's compliance, and have her attend parenting classes, and, if necessary, therapy, they might choose to leave the children in her care, at least temporarily. Removing children from the home is generally the last resort--unless the situation is urgent.

What you might do, is find out if your state has kinship foster care

If it does have that arrangement, look into how you might get the training to qualify for such an arrangement. You could even call CPS just to ask them about that, and how you could go about applying. Under such an arrangement, you would receive a stipend to cover the costs of caring for your nephew, and some compensation for your services as a caregiver. That might even allow you to continue your college courses, if he came to live with you under such an arrangement.

You know your nephew will be with you over the summer, so he will be out of the environment he is now in for that period of time. But the welfare of the other 2 children is a concern, particularly because you cannot locate their father. Qualifying for kinship care, by you, might help to assure long-term placement of your nephew with you. And nothing you've said about yourself would make you ineligible to care for your niece's children, including your nephew, on even a short-term emergency basis, if CPS were to want to immediately remove the children from her care--they much prefer to put children with close relatives, rather than in foster care.

So, I don't think anyone can tell you in advance exactly what CPS would do. My guess would be they would not remove the children from the home in the situation you describe, because it's neglect rather than abuse, but they would investigate and probably intervene in some way--particularly if you also ask your nephew's school to also report your sister, based on her failure to get him to school regularly.

Should you call CPS? Yes, I think you should. But no one can tell you in advance how they will handle the situation--they have to investigate it first. You might consider waiting until your nephew is with you for the summer, and then call them regarding the other 2 children. Then it might be more likely they'd leave your nephew with you, if they decide to remove the other 2 and place them in foster care if they can't immediately locate the father. But I really think they won't remove the children from her care, unless their investigation turns up indications that the children aren't safe with her. In neglect situations that aren't life-threatening or extreme, they'd most likely leave the children in their home, and intervene to make sure the neglect is stopped, and try to help her get her act together. But, you never know...

Reply Sat 31 May, 2014 11:03 am
Here is some more info on the type of kinship foster care I was thinking of in your case. This is the program in New York City. A similar program may or may not be available in your area.


A more permanent, long-term arrangement would be kinship guardianship, and this is information on that arrangement in NYS. You need to find out if your state has something similar.


On both of the above Web sites you will find the qualifications they look for in the kinship caregiver. From the info you have provided, you would seem to qualify.

Find your state Web site and then look for the Office of Children and Family Services, and see if you can find similar programs in your state, and information on who to contact. If that doesn't yield enough information, you can call CPS, tell them you are interested in kinship foster care and kinship guardianship, and ask them to direct you to the appropriate contact source.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 1 Jun, 2014 04:33 pm
Thank you so much @firefly. My mother has found a way to contact the kids father today. If he doesn't take my nephew to the hospital to get checked out for the paint eating (he is falling ill according to my mom) then she said she would be forced to take him and report to the hospital what happened. Then if the hospital doesn't call a social worker, she will call CPS. From there, we just hope that things will go as smooth as possible and that they do whats best for the kids.
Thank you for your help.
Reply Sun 1 Jun, 2014 07:05 pm
Actually I think your mother should go along on that trip to the hospital, even if the child's father takes him. I think she needs to tell the pediatrician who examines the child about her concerns with neglect. The reason the child is getting the chance to eat paint is because he's inadequately supervised, so you don't really know what other inappropriate or harmful substances he might be ingesting in addition to paint.

The pediatrician is a mandated reporter of possible child abuse/neglect, so once they hear of your mother's concerns, they are obligated to either have a social worker on the staff of the hospital speak with your mother, or to notify CPS themselves. Unless your mother goes along to the medical visit, neither of you can really be sure that an appropriate party, like a physician, has clearly been informed of your concerns. And, once the concerns are shared with them, and they are alerted to possible serious neglect, it becomes the responsibility of that professional to make a decision regarding what to do next. That will help to get some of the burden of responsibility off the shoulders of you and your mother in this difficult situation.

I'm glad I've been able to be of some help to you, kvida92. I sincerely hope this situation does work out well for everyone involved, particularly the three children. Let us know how things turn out.

I hope you enjoy your summer with your nephew.

Reply Sun 1 Jun, 2014 07:07 pm
<agreeing with firefly>
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