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When Can I Leave My Child…Home Alone?
Hi It’s Tosi here,
I often get asked this question by many parents…At what age can I leave my child home alone? As a Mom of two small kids, I get it. Sometimes, we just want to be able to run to the grocery store, or we have to work during after school hours, or we want to get a quick manicure. Whatever the reason, parents need to make sure they know the law and are comfortable with the decision that they make. A parent must consider their child’s emotional, physical, and mental well-being.  Before, I give my humble opinion, let us see what the law says. Unfortunately, Like most states, Georgia does not have regulations or laws to determine when a child is considered old enough to care for her/himself or to care for other children. However, there are state guidelines administered through the Division of Family and Children Services to evaluate situations and determine if a child neglect investigation is warranted. DFCS encourages parents to use sound judgment and assess the maturity and responsibility of their children before deciding whether to leave them home alone.
Georgia’s Guidelines for leaving a child without adult supervision:
  • Children under 8 years old should never be left alone, even for short periods of time.
  • Children between the ages of 9 and 12, based on level of maturity, can be left home alone for brief periods of time.
  • Children 13 and older can generally be left as babysitters, with the exception of children in foster care. It is not recommended, however, that 13 year olds baby sit infants, small children and children that require special attention due to medical conditions.
  • Children 15 and older can be left home alone overnight, depending on the level of maturity of the child.
Here is what I say:
  • Pray about every decision you make and understand that no matter the age, every child is different and has different levels of maturity.
  • Have a trial period, try leaving the child alone for 3o minutes and evaluate the process, discuss the family rules to ensure that the child knows what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior when you are not at home.
  • Do not leave any children under the age of 15 responsible for food preparation, especially if it involves having to cook food with a stove.
  • Have the child left in charge, check in regularly with you or another adult/neighbor at least every two hours.
  • Discuss the family safety plan, which includes making sure the child knows when to call 911, role play – rehearse and discuss different scenarios and listen to the answers of what the child will do.
  • Don’t over do it, as parents, sometimes when we get a bit of freedom, we can go wild. Even the most responsible child should not be left home alone too much.
  • Parents should not leave the country, yes I know this may seem like common sense…but I rather make it very clear that parents should make sure they remain accessible to their children at all times during their time away from home.
What are your thoughts? Weigh in by commenting below!
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