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Home alone: ​​from what age children in the US can be left unattended

In the United States, parents are often arrested for leaving their children alone, sometimes even for half an hour. ForumDaily decided to collect information about what age children and under what conditions you can leave alone at home in the United States.

Photo: Shutterstock

It turned out that there is no federal law in the country that determines the age at which a child can be left at home alone - each state decides this at its discretion.

Legislation in different states

Most regions have not set a minimum age, focusing on the child’s skills and character, which are decisive in the question of whether he can be left alone, the website reports

The table shows the states in which the minimum age at which a child can be alone at home is determined.

StaffMinimum ageWho is responsible
Washington10*Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
Colorado12*Colorado DHS Office of Children, Youth & Families
Delaware12*Delaware Division of Family Services
Georgia8*Georgia Division of Family & Children Services
North Dakota9*Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota
Illinois14Illinois Compiled Statutes
North Dakota9*Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota
Kansas6*Kansas Department for Children and Families
South Carolina12*Children's Trust of South Carolina
Maryland8Baltimore County, Maryland FAQ
Kentucky9*Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
Nebraska7*Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services
Michigan10*The Michigan Child Protection Law
Tennessee10*Tennessee Juvenile & Family Courts

The following table lists the states with undefined ages and links to the agency responsible for childcare and safety.

StaffMinimum ageWho is responsible
AlabamanoneAlabama Babysitting Laws
AlaskanoneJuneau Police Department
ArizonanoneArizona Department of Child Safety
ArkansasnoneArkansas Department of Human Services
CalifornianoneSierra Sacramento Coalition
ConnecticutnoneState of Connecticut Attorney General's Office
FloridanoneFlorida Department of Children and Families
HawaiinoneHawaii Department of the Attorney General
IdahononeIdaho Department of Health & Welfare
IndiananonePrevent Child Abuse Indiana
IowanoneIowa State University
LouisiananoneLouisiana Department of Children and Family Services
MainenoneMaine Department of Health and Human Services
MassachusettsnoneMassachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries
MinnesotanoneDakota County Child Supervision
MississippinoneMississippi State University
MissourinonePlatte County Juvenile Office Resources
MontananoneMontana Department of Public Health & Human Services
NevadanoneLas Vegas Review-Journal
New HampshirenoneNew Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services
New JerseynoneBergen County Department of Human Services
New MexicoNone **City of Albuquerque Child Safety at Home
New YorknoneNew York Office of Children and Family Services
OhiononeThe Cleveland Law Library
OklahomanoneOklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
PennsylvanianoneLegal zoom info
Rhode IslandnoneUniversity of rhode island
South DakotanoneSouth Dakota Safety Council
TexasnoneTexas Department of Family and Protective Services
UtahnoneChildren's Service Society of Utah
VermontnoneTown of Williston, Vermont
West VirginianoneWOWK-TV
WisconsinnoneCity of Madison Fire Department
VirginianoneVirginia Department of Social Services
WyomingUnknownWyoming Child Protective Services

Most of these states do not have a legal age when children can be left alone, but authorities responsible for child safety do not recommend leaving children under the age of 12-13 unattended.

Safety tips if you leave your child alone

In addition, these bodies are advised to pay attention to the nature and abilities of the child, writes Home Alone.

  • can he physically take care of his basic needs;
  • whether the child follows the rules and knows how to make the right decisions when necessary;
  • his reaction to stressful situations (an unexpected guest knocking on the door may cause stress to the child);
  • talk to the child and find out if he is afraid to stay at home alone.

Do not forget to pay attention to the safety of the house, the area in which you live, your neighbors, etc.

Experts emphasize that often children who are ready to be at home alone and can take care of themselves are not ready to look after younger brothers or sisters, so try to avoid such situations.


If someone informs the police or, for example, the Child Protection Service that your child was wrongfully left alone at home, an investigation will begin, during which children, neighbors and other people who may have an idea of ​​the incident will be interviewed, the newspaper writes Legalmatch.

At the same time, a child does not have to be physically alone, he may be with other children, or, for example, adults may come to the rescue, parents will be punished for the fact that they left him unattended.

If the investigation finds that you have put the child in danger, the Child Protection Service may recommend keeping the parents in custody and depriving them of their custody. The service has the right to remove parents from raising children immediately after the discovery of an offense, but only the court can deny parental rights, which gives parents a chance to protect their rights.

Therefore, if you are faced with a similar situation, it is better to immediately get a lawyer.

In the most serious cases, criminal charges may be brought against parents, which may lead to a prison sentence.

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