The legal age you can leave your child home alone (by state)

The legal age you can leave your child home alone (by state)

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Do you remember the first time your parents left you home alone? How old were you?

How about the first time you left your own child at home for the first time? How old were they?

Did you feel uneasy and unsure about what you were doing? Maybe thinking it was illegal?

You don't have to wonder anymore. The good people at Latchkey Kids put together a comprehensive state-by-state table that details what is the limit (if any) for each state:

StateMinimum Age of Home Alone ChildReference
AlabamaNoneAlabama Babysitting Laws
AlaskaUnknownNo Resource Found
ArizonaNoneAZ Child Protective Services (CPS) Frequently Asked Questions
ArkansasNoneDefinitions of Child Abuse and Neglect - Arkansas
CaliforniaNoneSierra Sacramento Coalition
Colorado12 *Colorado Department of Human Services
ConnecticutNoneState of Connecticut Attorney General's Office
Delaware12 *Delaware Division of Family Services
FloridaNoneFlorida Department of Children & Families
Georgia8 *Georgia Division of Family & Children Services
HawaiiNoneHawaii Department Of The Attorney General
IdahoNoneIdaho Department of Health & Welfare
Illinois14Illinois Compiled Statutes
IndianaNonePrevent Child Abuse Indiana
IowaNoneIowa State University
Kansas6 *Kansas Department For Children and Families
KentuckyUnknownNo Resource Found
LouisianaNoneLouisiana Department of Social Services
MaineNoneMaine Kids & Kin
Maryland8Baltimore County, Maryland FAQ
MassachusettsNoneMassachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries
Michigan11 *The Michigan Child Protection Law (Appendix 2)
MinnesotaNoneDakota County, Minnesota Child Supervision
Mississippi12 *Mississippi State University
MissouriNonePlatte County, Missouri Juvenile Office Resources
MontanaNoneMontana Child & Family Services
NebraskaNoneNebraska Dept of Health & Human Resources
NevadaNoneLas Vegas Review-Journal
New HampshireNoneState Of New Hampshire Attorney General
New JerseyNoneBergen County Department of Human Services
New Mexico10City of Albuquerque Child Safety At Home
New YorkNoneNew York Children & Family Services
North Carolina8NC Health & Human Services
North Dakota9 *Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota
OhioNoneThe Cleveland Law: Home Alone Children
OklahomaNoneAfter-School Safety for Children Who Are Home Alone -
Oregon10Oregon State Laws
Rhode IslandUnknownNo Resource Found
South DakotaNoneSouth Dakota Law
Tennessee10 *Tennessee Juvenile & Family Court Judges
TexasNoneTexas Family & Protective Services
UtahNoneChildren's Service Society of Utah
VermontUnknownNo Resource Found
VirginiaNoneVirginia Coalition for Child Abuse Prevention
Washington10 *Washington State Dept of Social and Health Services
West VirginiaUnknownNo Resource Found
WisconsinNoneCity of Madison Fire Department
WyomingUnknownNo 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.

I have to say that I am surprised by the lack of official age restrictions in most states. And for the states that do, there is a very wide range of ages: 8-14. Kansas is an outlier by having the age limit down to 6, at that point, why bother even having a recommended age on the books*?

*Note: I want to clarify that 6 is guideline as Kansas doesn't have set legal age.

I have to refer to my own childhood for experience with leaving children at home (my son isn't 3 yet). If I recall correctly (and she will tell me if I didn't), my mother was very cautious leaving us home alone and I don't think she reached a comfort level with it until we were around 11 or 12. That number feels kind of right to me, but feel free to check back in 9 years.

Images by iStock and Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen, Flickr

This post was originally published November 4, 2014

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: At what age are your kids able to stay home alone? (July 2022).


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