How Young is Too Young to Leave a Child at Home?

It is common for parents to wonder when they can start leaving children home alone, but in Georgia, there is no legal statute to tell them.

Many parents find that being able to leave a child at home alone is convenient, and a big change from having to take them along wherever they go. As children become older, though, parents are not always aware of when they can start leaving them behind as they run errands, shop for gifts, and complete other tasks. So, how young is too young to leave a child at home in Georgia?

The Laws on Age Requirements for Leaving Children Home Alone

There are only three states that have laws on minimum age requirements for leaving children home alone. The majority of states have guidelines, though not actual legal statutes outlining the provisions. Illinois, Oregon, and Maryland have laws stating the age children can be left home alone. In Maryland, that age is 8 years old.

Although Georgia does not have specific laws stating when a child may be left home alone, the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services has issued guidelines for parents. These guidelines state that 8 years old is too young in Georgia to leave a child home alone. The guidelines also state that when leaving children home alone between the ages of 9 and 12, parents should only do so for a period of two hours or less.

Also, according to the guidelines, children cannot look after younger children when home alone until they are the age of 13. Only at this time can they start to act as a babysitter and even then, only for a maximum period of 12 hours. Any time a parent wants to leave a child home alone, they must assess the child’s maturity level, according to the guidelines.

Other Laws Pertaining to Leaving Children at Home Alone

Georgia may not have specific laws regarding leaving children home alone, but they do have laws on child abuse and neglect. A parent could face these charges for leaving a child home alone in a situation that placed the child in danger.

For example, if a parent left a child at home alone for an extended period of time and did not leave any food to eat, that could be considered neglect because the child would have no way of getting food for themselves. Or, if an older child was left home alone but had disabilities that left them unable to care for themselves, that could also be considered abuse or neglect.

Have Other Family Law Questions? Call Our Georgia Family Lawyers

When starting a family, many people do not consider the fact that they will face a number of different legal questions. When to start leaving a child home alone is just one of these. If you have questions or are facing a legal issue, call our Norcross family lawyers at Zimmerman & Associates at (770) 350-0100. We have the necessary experience to guide you through any legal matter and will always work in the best interests of you and your family.