Kids (4-12)

Home Alone Rules by State


at what age can children stay home alone

Many parents are faced with the dilemma of at what age can children stay home alone, especially during after-school hours or the summertime. Before you consider leaving your child without supervision, be sure they are reasonably mature, able to take care of themselves, and completely prepared for emergency situations. Set ground rules, review basic safety guidelines, and establish routines that are designed to keep your child healthy and safe. {Tweet This} Our iMom printable with 10 Home Alone Rules is a good start.

The following table lists the minimum age at which children may be left at home alone, categorized by state, within the United States. Please note that city and county ordinances within each state may have more definitive and restrictive laws. Call your State DHS or local child welfare agency to learn about age guidelines in your area.

State Minimum Age Reference
Alabama None Alabama Babysitting Laws
Alaska Unknown Juneau Police Department
Arizona None Arizona Department of Child Safety
Arkansas None Arkansas Department of Human Services
California None Sierra Sacramento Coalition
Colorado 12* Colorado DHS Office of Children, Youth & Families
Connecticut None State of Connecticut Attorney General’s Office
Delaware 12* Delaware Division of Family Services
Florida None Florida Department of Children and Families
Georgia 8* Georgia Division of Family & Children Services
Hawaii None Hawaii Department of the Attorney General
Idaho None Idaho Department of Health & Welfare
Illinois 14 Illinois Compiled Statutes
Indiana None Prevent Child Abuse Indiana
Iowa None Iowa State University
Kansas 6* Kansas Department for Children and Families
Kentucky 9* Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
Louisiana None Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services
Maine None Maine Department of Health and Human Services
Maryland 8 Baltimore County, Maryland FAQ
Massachusetts None Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries
Michigan 10* The Michigan Child Protection Law
Minnesota None Dakota County Child Supervision
Mississippi 12* Mississippi State University
Missouri None Missouri Department of Social Services
Montana None Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services
Nebraska 7* Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services
Nevada None No Resource Found
New Hampshire None New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services
New Jersey None Bergen County Department of Human Services
New Mexico None** City of Albuquerque Child Safety at Home
New York None New York Office of Children and Family Services
North Carolina 8 North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services
North Dakota 9* North Dakota Department of Human Services
Ohio None The Cleveland Law Library
Oklahoma None Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
Oregon 10* Oregon Government Resources
Pennsylvania None Legal Zoom Info
Rhode Island None No Resource Found
South Carolina 12* Children’s Trust of South Carolina
South Dakota None South Dakota Safety Council
Tennessee 10* Tennessee Juvenile & Family Courts
Texas None Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Utah None Children’s Service Society of Utah
Vermont None Town of Williston, Vermont
Virginia None Virginia Department of Social Services
Washington 10* Seattle’s Child
West Virginia None WOWK-TV
Wisconsin None City of Madison Fire Department
Wyoming Unknown Wyoming Child Protective Services

Some information taken with permission from http://www.latchkey-kids.com.

*Age listed is the recommended minimum age a child may be left home alone in lieu of a legally specified age minimum.

**City of Albuquerque Ordinance states that children under the age of 11 may not be left home alone.

Tell us! When would you feel comfortable leaving your kids alone?

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Comments


  • Jeff

    Pittsburgh has an “h” at the end.

    • Jeff – All fixed now. Thank you for pointing that out!

  • Angela

    Parents need to not leave too young of a child home alone. Even if you tell them not to open the door to strangers they may forget and do it any way or just think that if it’s an adult they have to open the door. This happened to a family member when she was 6 years old and she was sexually molested by a very sick person who had watched the house from a secret location to see when her parents left home without her. It ruined the rest of her life. She became untrusting and could not have good relationship even with her own husband when she grew up. She now takes medicine for depression and panic attacks. Small children need to be supervised. Don’t think you can lock them at home and they are safe just because you told them to never open the door. They could also be kidnapped or murdered. Please watch your kids.

    • Bruce Geidel

      Sometime the kids are safer home alone than with a babysitter. There are many physically and sexually abusive babysitters and daycare centers. Don’t forget the widespread daycare sex abuse in 1984 and 85. Teaching children to care for themselves afterschool is sometimes the wisest choice.

      • Jamie Dees

        I agree with there being the best action is to leave your child home alone instead of with sitters or day care facilities. I am a singlebworking mother and it became more of a necessity to either decide to be a stay home Mom and pull from my savings to support my family or make the choice to leave my children home alone. I was lucky that i b had great neighbors at the time and my children were mature and old enough to leave home while i continued working. I had horrible experiences with private sitters and daycare facilities.

  • Siobhan

    This chart is not accurate. I went to the latchkey kids site and I didn’t look at the other states but that is wrong for Wisconsin.

  • Greg

    I don’t agree with the way they handle this. I am having a huge problem with my ex. We have joint custody and I get my daughter every other week. Well I learned last week that she has been making my daughter stay home alone while she and her husband goes grocery shopping or whatever they do. my daughter is only 7 and it only takes a minute for something to go horribly wrong. Rapist, Murderers, Theives, hell who knows what else and she told me that I cant do nothing about it and she sees nothing wrong with what she is doing.

    • donna

      I agree with you!

    • Jamie Dees

      7yrs is definitely way to young to be left for even a trip down the street and back

  • Jamie Dees

    My boys are 16 and 14 but when i started thinking about when to leave them home alone i made sure to not only contact my local police department and DHS center so there would be no misunderstanding about what the legal age realy was. In my city in MS i was informed by both agencies the appropriate age was 12yrs for and child to be left alone and 13yrs to be able to supervise a younger sibling. They also had certain time allowances they could be left by themselves. You may also want to make sure you talk several times with your children about the rules. I sent a very close family friend by several times to knock on the door and try to make sure the rules were being followed. We also went over “what if” circumstances that could happen and what to do. Always remember just because it maybe legal at a certain age your child may not be emotionally ready for this kind of responsibility.

  • Harre

    my boss needed FL 12.902(e) recently and saw a website that hosts lots of form templates . If you need to fill out FL 12.902(e) also , here’s a https://goo.gl/3YiFNV

  • Tiffany Voegel

    My child is 10. She is very mature. Sadly, she had to grow up pretty quickly due to personal matters. I get off of work about 30 minutes later than she gets out of school. I’m a single mother so money can get pretty tight. We live in an apartment in a suburban neighborhood. There are only 4 units in our building. The building doors remain locked at all times. We are also very close with the other tenants, as we have been here for almost 4 yrs. Someone is usually home in our building. What are your thoughts on having her dropped off at home after school and being alone for about 30-45 minutes?

  • Tiffany

    My child is 10. She is very mature. Sadly, she had to grow up pretty quickly due to personal matters. I get off of work about 30 minutes later than she gets out of school. I’m a single mother so money can get pretty tight. We live in an apartment in a suburban neighborhood. There are only 4 units in our building. The building doors remain locked at all times. We are also very close with the other tenants, as we have been here for almost 4 yrs. Someone is usually home in our building. What are your thoughts on having her dropped off at home after school and being alone for about 30-45 minutes?

    • Alexa Campbell

      I would say its okay. As long as she knows how to dial 911 and what to say.

  • Tiffani E

    I love #7 on the Home Alone Rules😀

  • Stephanie Davis

    I think the individual child’s maturity & the nature of reasoning are key factors. My girls are 5 & 8. I am blessed with family & friends that are normally available. I am not a single working parent. I am lucky, but if i had to leave my 8 year old alone for 30-45 minutes for a real reason, I could. (Real reason being I have absolutely no other choice).The 5 y/o? No way. 8 y/o watching the 5 y/o….questionable. If you are a single working parent with no help, you have to do what you have to do. I applaud you & send prayers to you to stay strong.

  • We’ve been using the iMom Home Alone Rules for several years. We started leaving our kids home for short periods of time when they were around 9 or 10. Every few months we increase the time alone by 10 – 15 minutes. We have very mature children who can handle it and the rules have been a big help in their developing good skills when home alone. This is a very helpful list. Thanks!

  • Danniel Ralston

    Every state should have a minimum age for a child to be left home alone