Home Alone: Guidelines For Kids And Parents

teenager with tablet while lying on the floor in the room

School is out and with the summer months comes more free time for many kids – and parent/guardian concerns about leaving children unsupervised at home. Every child is different and parents are ultimately responsible for making decisions about their child’s safety. If you feel your child is ready to be left at home unsupervised, here are guidelines developed by social workers and community partners. It is important to understand these are only guidelines.


How To Know If Your Child Is Ready
  • There must be no emotional, medical or behavioral problems that affect their judgement or decision-making skills.
  • The child must be comfortable being alone.
  • You and your child should have a safety plan worked out, which includes:
    • How to get in touch with you or other responsible adults at all times (including knowing the parent/caretaker’s whereabouts and having a telephone number where you can be reached).
    • What to do in case of emergency.
    • Guidelines for acceptable behavior.
    • Knowledge of emergency telephone numbers.
  • Your child must demonstrate the ability to follow the safety plan and to make decisions that reflect concern for personal safety.


Age Guidelines

7 years and under:
Should not be left alone for any period of time. This may include leaving children unattended in cars, playgrounds and backyards.

8 to 10 years:
Should not be left alone for more than 1½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours.

11 to 12 years:
May be left alone for up to 3 hours but not late at night or in circumstances requiring inappropriate responsibility.

13 to 15 years:
May be left unsupervised, but not overnight.

16 to 17 years:
May be left unsupervised (in some cases, for up to two consecutive overnight periods).


Resources for Parents



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