What age is appropriate to start leaving your kids at home alone?
There are no laws regarding the supervision of your kids and DFCS has guidelines that could help parents determine what is best for their child.
According to the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS), children between the ages of nine and twelve can be left alone for less than two hours and children who are 13 or older can be left alone and perform the role of a babysitter.
Children who are younger than eight years old should NOT be left home alone, according to DHS.
However, DHS also outlines some special circumstances depending on specific factors such as:
- It may not be advisable to leave an older child who has a special condition or disability alone.
- Consideration may be given to a child younger than 13 years, who exhibits strong maturity skills and has participated in a course on babysitting, to be alone to care for other children. Suggested questions to ask are:
- Does the child know the emergency plan for the family?
- Does the child know the parent's phone numbers (work and home)?
- Can the child demonstrate the plan and recite the numbers?
- What is the availability of the parent during this time?
- Are there environmental factors that add further risk to the situation?
- Are there factors that reduce risk, i.e. supportive/available neighbors?
Some parents may feel they trust their kids and can leave them home alone at an early age, others may feel their kids need supervision and some may feel that it's none of the state's business what they decide to do with their children.