Home alone? The question of how old a child can be to be safely and legally left alone has been unclear. While DCFS stated that the age was a bright line rule of 13, Illinois law did not say that and left the question unanswered. Illinois law (705 ILCS 405/2-3), now states that anyone under the age of 14 can only be left alone if certain factors support the absence of supervision. The corollary to this suggests that a child over the age of 14 can be left alone without penalty. Common sense parenting must be applied. Children between the ages of 14 and 18 can certainly get into significant trouble when left unsupervised. Some things to consider:
• The number of children and their ages;
• How long the children are alone;
• Time of day; Special needs, medical conditions, emotional state and medication of the children;
• Weather conditions;
• Condition and location of where the children are;
• How far away the parents will be from the children;
• Whether the children are locked in or restrained; • The children’s access to a phone (landlines are preferred);
Whether the children know how to use the phone to call for assistance; • Availability of adults in the area;
• Availability of food.
Local police departments are working hard to enforce this law to protect children and to balance these factors. There will be some judgment calls that result in differing conclusions. It is critical to consider these factors to ensure the safety of your children and to also avoid an adult’s possible arrest for failure ensure children’s safety.
Wakeman Law Group 741 S. McHenry Avenue Crystal Lake, IL 60014 815.893.6800 https://wakemanlaw.net/