Having to leave a child home alone isn't an easy decision, even with a fully capable child and when your trip to the store is just going to last a few minutes. Depending on where you live, there may be laws in place to help you make that decision and to know where the state draws the line at neglect. In this article, you'll learn about laws for when you can leave a child home alone, including helpful guidelines covering:
Leaving a Child Home Alone and the Law
Only a couple of states specify a legal age to leave a child home alone, including Maryland (age 8) and Illinois (age 14). However, most states have guidelines with the Department of Health and Human Services or other child protective agencies that test a child's ability to be left home alone. Factors may include the child's age and maturity, the overall safety of the surrounding area/circumstances, and arrangements made to secure the child's safety.
Below are general guidelines to follow when considering the age range when can you leave kids home alone:
How to Know If a Child Is Ready to Stay at Home Alone
It's important to note that no two children are alike, and parents must decide on a case-by-case basis what's best for their child. Therefore, in addition to the general guidelines listed above, a parent or caretaker should consider the following before they leave a child home alone:
When Can You Leave a Child Home Alone: Safety Tips
Finally, if leaving kids home alone is a necessity -- at least where older children are involved -- you can follow the following recommendations:
In addition to the suggestions listed above, it's always a good idea to inform immediate neighbors that your child may be home alone on some days. Not only can a neighbor be a good resource in the event of an emergency, it can help alleviate potential calls to child protective services by unaware neighbors.
Questions About Leaving a Child Home Alone? Get Legal Help Today
Is your child too young to be at home alone? That question is never an easy one to answer, but the law in your state does provide guidance. Because your child's safety is of paramount importance, speak with a legal expert who can provide you with a clear answer. A family law attorney in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the laws of your state and help you understand how to comply with them.