When can I leave my child home alone?

Summer is in full swing and many parents may be wondering: When can I leave my child home alone?  As a parent, I remember wondering when it is okay to leave my children home by themselves and for how long. I found it was helpful to ask these questions.

  1. Is my child old enough and mature enough to be home alone?

  2. Does my child know what to do if there is any emergency?

  3. What are the legal guidelines in Crow Wing County?

Here are two resources that will be very helpful as you make this important decision for your child(ren).

  1. The Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines, Minnesota statute 626.556

  2. A Parent’s Guide to Leaving Children Home Alone, Childcare Aware of Minnesota

It is important to remember to think about each child’s maturity and their ability to handle themselves in all situations. Here are a few questions to consider from A Parent’s Guide to Leaving Children Home Alone as you think about whether your child is ready to stay home alone:

  1. Does your child know when and how to call 9-1-1?

  2. Can your child say and dial your home phone number and does she or he know your home address?

  3. Does your child know how to reach you or other responsible adults by phone? Do you have a list of important and emergency phone numbers near the phone and within your child’s reach?

  4. Has your child shown an interest in staying home alone? Would your child feel safe if home alone? Test this out by “practicing” with the children while you are still at home. Act out or talk through a few challenging situations that may arise while children are on their own.

  5. Have you created a plan for your child’s day or time at home?

(For a full list of questions, check out: A Parent’s Guide to Leaving Children Home Alone) If you are unsure how to answer a question or the answer is ‘no’ be sure to use this as an area for discussion or planning within your family. Always include your child in the decision making process.

Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines are used by child protection agencies in determining if a report regarding lack of supervision needs to be assessed by a social worker. Minnesota statute 626.556 addresses the issue of failure to provide necessary supervision or child care arrangements. Reports alleging inadequate child care arrangements may be screened in for a child protection response according to the following guidelines:

  1. Children age 7 and under who are left alone for any period of time.

  2. Children ages 8 to 10 who are left alone for more than three hours.

  3. Children ages 11 to 13 who are left alone for more than 12 hours.

  4. Children ages 14 to 15 who are left alone for more than 24 hours.

  5. Children ages 16 to 17 may be left home alone for more than 24 hours with a plan in place concerning how to handle an emergency.

  6. Children under the age of 11 should not provide child care.

  7. Children ages 11 to 13 who are placed in a child care role may not do so for more than 12 hours.

  8. Children ages 14 to 15 who are placed in a child care role may not do for more than 24 hours.

School-aged (K-6th gr.) child care programs available in our area:

  1. Brainerd: Fun “n” Friends ISD 181 (218-454-6920)

  2. Cosby–Ironton: Summer Kidz Kamp, Hallett Center (218-546-2616)

  3. Pillager: Fun Stop (218-746-2192)

  4. Staples-Motley: Staples Summer Time Adventures (218-894-2497)

  5. Pequot Lakes: Kids Konnection (218-562-6109)

 If you or someone you know could benefit from additional support, click here to learn more about our programs, or call us at 218-825-7682.

#support #parent #community #children #homealone #resources #families #youngchildren #guidelines #BridgesofHope

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