ST. LOUIS – Parents make many important decisions each and every day for the children. The responsibility of deciding when it’s appropriate to leave children home alone is a significant consideration.
Some states have restrictions on leaving children alone at home depending on circumstances like age, time and location. Others give parents the power to make those decisions based on their best judgment.
Is it legal to leave your child home alone in Missouri and Illinois? And at what age can parents legally leave their children at home?
There are no Missouri laws or statutes that note of age restrictions for leaving your children at home. However, the Missouri Department of Social Services has offered this guidance to parents since 2014:
“The Children’s Division Abuse/Neglect Hotline takes reports of a child under age 8 left alone, with a face to face safety check held within 3 hours.”
Parents are advised to make decisions based on their child’s maturity and belief in a safe environment.
Illinois has one of the most important laws when it comes to decisions on whether to leave a child home alone. In short, all children left at home should be at least 14 years old for it to be legal.
According to Illinois state statutes, a parent could be held liable for neglect if:
“Any minor under the age of 14 years whose parent or other person responsible for the minor’s welfare leaves the minor without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that minor”
For parents with children of legal age, they are advised to make decisions based on their child’s maturity and belief in a safe environment.
Also of note, Illinois is just one of four states that has an age requirement for leaving children alone and has the highest such requirement. State requirement and recommendations for leaving children home alone are broken down further on IMom.com.