latchkey kids

While most parents would prefer that their young children are always supervised, there might be times when parents have little choice but to leave young kids home alone. For instance, parents might be working and unable to pick up their son or daughter or be present when they come home from school. No matter the reason, parents should be clear on the laws regarding leaving children unsupervised.

Important Details about Latchkey Kids

Basic Guidelines

There’s a loose framework for leaving kids home alone and the age at which they should be left alone. It’s best that kids younger than eight not be left alone at all, no matter the circumstances. Those who are eight to 10 should only be left alone for no more than two hours during the day and evening, and 11 and 12-year-olds no more than three hours. Parents should use discretion regarding teenagers under 18 years old.

Reasons for latchkey kids

Besides working, there are several other reasons parents leave their kids home alone. Rather than being at work, parents who live in an apartment building or complex might leave their kids alone in the apartment while they workout down at the community gym or lounge by the pool. Some parents might want to introduce their older kids to independence and leaving them home alone for a couple of hours could help.

know the law

Generally, each state works with its own Department of Health and Human Services to create individual guidelines regarding when children can be left alone. Such guidelines are determined by the child’s age, the neighborhood in which the child lives, and how long the child will be left alone. It’s best to talk with a family law attorney for specific details regarding each individual state’s laws and circumstances regarding children.

Set Some ground rules

No matter the reasons for leaving a child alone, parents should have rules in place. For instance, kids should know who to call in an emergency as well as what’s considered an emergency. Neighbors can also be involved and help look after a child who’s home alone. Kids should know how to properly lock all doors and windows, and whom they should and should not talk to while home alone.