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Legal Age Restrictions For Latchkey Kids

This webpage was developed by Database Systems Corp., a leading provider of community services including CARE (Call Reassurance). CARE is an automated service that calls home alone individuals to ensure their well-being. CARE can be managed online by the individual or family member. If the person does not respond to this call, family members or community volunteers can be contacted to check-in on their loved ones to ensure they are OK. DSC also provides a community organization program called eCARE that allows communities to provide these services to its members using an online program.

At what age can a child be legally left at home alone?
(See the chart below).

The National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone.

However, consider a child's age and maturity level. For example, if a child is extremely impulsive, it might be best to wait until he or she is older than 12.

There appear to be very few states with specific regulations about the age of a child left at home alone. However, since the number of latchkey kids is growing significantly due to 2 income parents and single parents and guardians, there is a growing movement within state agencies to set guidelines.

Lynn Yaney, spokeswoman for the agency that handles child welfare in Contra Costa County, California, states:

    "A general rule of thumb is that kids under age seven aren't capable of thinking logically and putting cause and effect together," Tanner said. "They are reliant on caregivers to structure their day." Children between ages 7 and 10 years aren't generally ready to self-supervise for an extended period, but in a routine and predictable environment, such as just after school, they can manage, Tanner said. Children 12 and 13 years old should be judged on a case- by-case basis but should not be left alone overnight.
The following is a state by state listing of specific age restrictions on home alone children. This list was obtained from information on the web as well as contacts within certain state agencies. Where no information can be found, the age restriction is listed as unknown. Some states are listed where there were no legal restrictions on home alone children ages and these are marked as None. Some states publish recommended guideline limits and those are annotated with an asterisk (*).

DISCLAIMER. The content herein is a summary of generally available information from the internet. DSC does not warrant its accuracy nor provide legal guidance to parents or guardians of potential home alone children. Contact your State DHS or local child welfare agency to learn about age guidelines in your area.

Because website content changes frequently, we periodically check the validity of sources referenced in this article. If you find any state information that needs to be added or updated, please Contact DSC and we will update this list as soon as possible.


Latchkey Children Age Restrictions By State

The following table lists legal age restrictions for children left at home alone categorized by state within the U.S. Please note that city and county ordinances within each state may have more definitive and restrictive laws. Call your State DHS or local child welfare agency to learn about age guidelines in your area.


State


Minimum Age of
Home Alone Child


Reference


Alabama
None
Alabama Babysitting Laws
Alaska
Unknown
No Resource Found
Arizona
None
AZ Child Protective Services (CPS) Frequently Asked Questions
Arkansas
None
Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Arkansas
California
None
Sierra Sacramento Coalition
Colorado
12 *
Colorado Department of Human Services
Connecticut
None
State of Connecticut Attorney General's Office
Delaware
12 *
Delaware Division of Family Services
Florida
None
Florida Department of Children & Families
Georgia
8 *
Georgia Division of Family & Children Services
Hawaii
None
Hawaii Department Of The Attorney General
Idaho
None
Idaho Department of Health & Welfare
Illinois
14
Illinois Compiled Statutes
Indiana
None
Prevent Child Abuse Indiana
Iowa
None
Iowa State University
Kansas
6 *
Kansas Department For Children and Families
Kentucky
Unknown
No Resource Found
Louisiana
None
Louisiana Department of Social Services
Maine
None
Maine Kids & Kin
Maryland
8
Baltimore County, Maryland FAQ
Massachusetts
None
Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries
Michigan
11 *
The Michigan Child Protection Law (Appendix 2)
Minnesota
None
Dakota County, Minnesota Child Supervision
Mississippi
12 *
Mississippi State University
Missouri
None
Platte County, Missouri Juvenile Office Resources
Montana
None
Montana Child & Family Services
Nebraska
None
Nebraska Dept of Health & Human Resources
Nevada
None
Las Vegas Review-Journal
New Hampshire
None
State Of New Hampshire Attorney General
New Jersey
None
Bergen County Department of Human Services
New Mexico
10
City of Albuquerque Child Safety At Home
New York
None
New York Children & Family Services
North Carolina
8
NC Health & Human Services
North Dakota
9 *
Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota
Ohio
None
The Cleveland Law: Home Alone Children
Oklahoma
None
After-School Safety for Children Who Are Home Alone - www.ok.gov
Oregon
10
Oregon State Laws
Pennsylvania
None
Pittsburg Post-Gazette.com article June, 2007
Rhode Island
Unknown
No Resource Found
South Carolina
None
SCNow.com
South Dakota
None
South Dakota Law
Tennessee
10 *
Tennessee Juvenile & Family Court Judges
Texas
None
Texas Family & Protective Services
Utah
None
Children's Service Society of Utah
Vermont
Unknown
No Resource Found
Virginia
None
Virginia Coalition for Child Abuse Prevention
Washington
10 *
Washington State Dept of Social and Health Services
West Virginia
Unknown
No Resource Found
Wisconsin
None
City of Madison Fire Department
Wyoming
Unknown
No Resource Found

* Guideline ONLY. These states do not set a specific age after which a child legally can stay home alone but do provide recommendations.


CARE Latchkey Kids Calling Solutions

latchkey children Database Systems Corp. provides an automatic phone system that calls seniors and latchkey children to ensure they are OK. This system is called CARE (Call Reassurance) and is provided to organizations such as police departments, sheriff's offices, fire departments, and other non-profit and for-profit community service organizations. These organizations are refered to as CARE Providers.

Enrollment in these programs is often free to citizens in these communities. In many cases, CARE systems are purchased using grants from major charitable organizations such as United Way.

DSC also provides individual CARE calls to seniors and latchkey children on a subscription basis. This service can be obtained through a simple Online Registration.

How Do I Enroll My Child?

Before enrollment, please take time to view a description and explanation of the Registration Process that is required to enroll your child in this program. To enroll, simply click on the graphic below:


DSC provides an easy and secure sign-up procedure for enrolling in this Home Alone Children calling program. Everything can be done using our Latchkey Kids website.
  • Online Enrollment - Sign Up online using our secure website.
  • Child's Profile - Specify your child's profile (window of time to make calls to your child).
  • Name Contacts - Identify who we need to contact if we can't reach your child.
  • Secure Payment - Choose one of several enrollment and payment options and pay online using Visa or MasterCard.
DSC provides online and phone management of your account. This lets you view a history of the calls. You can also manage the dates and times for these calls including vacation days.

Plus our service is performed automatically - there are no operators involved so we can ensure your child's privacy.

Create A Community Account For Latchkey Kids

You can create and manage a community organization eCARE account for free using our online registration process. With this account, you can enroll children and other community members using various different profiles including home alone children calls. Individual members of this community receive special discounts when enrolled through a single eCARE account. Click on the Create eCARE Account link below.

Enter your organization's name, a valid email address along with your own password, and we will establish your eCARE account. eCARE can now be used as your primary calling program for seniors in your community or can be a backup to any other system that is currently making these calls. eCARE is a pay-as-you-go service and you only pay for the calls that we make.

Articles About Latchkey Kids

CARE Information

Database Systems Corp. (DSC) is a leader in providing community calling programs including our CARE (Call Reassurance) solutions that provide telephone reassurance for senior citizens. DSC also provides individual programs for parents of latchkey children (home alone kids). CARE products incorporate various technologies including IVR and Voice Broadcasting.

Contact DSC to learn more about our CARE home alone children calling service and phone systems. To enroll your child in this program, use our online registration form.