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At what age can a child be left home alone?

Child Welfare
Child Abuse and Neglect


State child abuse and neglect reporting laws do not specify the age at which a child can be left home alone. No consistent community standards exist describing when and under what circumstances children can be left alone or in the care of other children. Information about the age at which it is considered appropriate to leave a child alone may exist elsewhere in your local, county or State policies or ordinances that address this special topic.

You may want to contact your local police department or child protective services (CPS) agency for information about specific local regulations or ordinances. If you need help locating your local CPS agency, a listing of all State Child Welfare Agency Websites is available from Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families (ACF).  You may also call Childhelp® at its toll-free number, 1.800.4 A CHILD® (1.800.422.4453).  Childhelp® has professional counselors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help connect you with professionals in your community.

Many national organizations have developed resources and guidelines to help parents make decisions about leaving their children home alone while they go to work, run errands, attend social events etc. Listed below are some examples of such guidelines:

National Crime Prevention Council
Leaving Kids Home Alone

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Home Alone Children

Last Reviewed: March 26, 2018