With the cost of child care these days, many families are asking themselves, "At what age can I leave my child home alone?"  It's a tough question. Apparently, too tough for our state to take action on it.

MINNESOTA HAS NO AGE REQUIREMENTS

While researching state regulations on this topic, I found that Minnesota Law does not specify at what age a child can be left home alone. However, there are general laws and guidelines that address adequate and appropriate supervision of children.

STEARNS COUNTY GUIDELINES

In Stearns County,If you leave your child alone, and someone reports you to officials, the following things will be considered when deciding if it was appropriate for you to leave your child alone:

  • The Maturity level of the child or children.
  • The accessibility of a responsible adult by phone or email.
  • The presence of metal or physical disabilities or problems.
  • The behavioral history of the child.
  • The child's age if using a stove, iron, or other appliance.
  • The establishing of an escape plan or fire drill.
  • The presence of a smoke detector in the home.
  • Does the child want to be left home alone?
  • Selection of an irresponsible or unsafe person to care for your child.
  • Safety around your home. Pools, lakes , farm machinery, or other dangers.

RECOMMENDED AGE GUIDELINES FOR STEARNS COUNTY

If you are reported to officials, these are the things that may be considered in your case:

  • 5 year old children and under- Should never be left unattended.
  • 6-7 year old children, the agency will take into consideration the circumstances around the situation.
  • 8-10 who are left alone for more than three hours.
  • 11-13 who are let alone for more than 12 hours.
  • 14-15 who are left alone for more than 24 hours.
  • 16-17 may be left alone for more than 24 hours with a plan in place concerning how to respond to an emergency.

 AT WHAT AGE CAN OTHER CHILDREN PROVIDE CHILD CARE?

  • Children ages 11 and under should never provide child care.
  • 11-15 who are placed in a child care role are subject to the same time restrictions of being left alone as listed above.
  • 16-17 year old children may be left alone for 24 hours with adequate adult back up supervision.

For local guidelines, click HERE. You can also click HERE to learn about child care laws from the US Department of Health & Human Services.