Schools out for the summer and lots of parents might be wondering if their kids are old enough to stay home alone. The legal minimum age varies from state to state. Oregon law says kids can be home at 10. There is no minimum age in Washington and Idaho. Safe Kids USA says kids should not be left alone until they're 12.
But age isn't the only thing parents need to consider. Other factors to keep in mind include your child's maturity, whether your home and neighborhood are safe, and how long your child will be left unattended. If something bad happens, these are things Child Protective Services would look at to determine if a parent put their child in danger.
It’s usually a good idea to start with short stays. The Latch Key Kids organization says even kids ready to be home alone should not be left for more than three hours a day. The American Red Cross gets kids ready to be home alone with a program called "When I'm in Charge."
The $50 workshop is aimed at eight to eleven year olds, to help them make life saving decisions like what to do in the event of a fire, and how to get help if they need it.
Some kids just aren’t comfortable staying home alone. Here’s how you can tell: if you get home and the television or radio are turned up really loudly; or if your child is having nightmares.
And of course, you want to call and check-in with your child regularly once you've made the decision to let them stay on their own.
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