Leaving Kids Home Alone
June 15, 2015
Now that school is out for the summer, many parents ask, “Are my kids old enough to be left home alone?” This is a tricky question. Minnesota does not have a law that gives a specific age at which kids can be left home alone. Minnesota does have a law that defines neglect. One kind of neglect is a lack of age-appropriate supervision. While each county has its own rules about what this means, here are some guidelines that many counties use.
Guidelines for Unsupervised Children
- Children ages 7 and under should not be left alone for any amount of time
- Children ages 8-10 should not be left alone for more than 3 hours
- Children ages 11-13 should not be left alone more than 12 hours
- Children ages 14-15 should not be left alone for more than 24 hours
- Children ages 16-17 may be left alone for over 24 hours with an appropriate plan in place
Guidelines for Supervision by Older Children
- Children under age 11 should not babysit.
- Children over age 11 can babysit but must follow the same home alone time limits listed above.
There are many things to consider when deciding if your child is old enough to be home alone or caring for younger siblings. Here is a checklist of things to consider: A Parent’s Guide to Leaving Children Home Alone.
For tips on how to prepare your child to be home alone, check out the article Children Home Alone.
If you have questions about whether your child is old enough to be home alone or caring for younger siblings, you can contact your county social services agency.