This is a question we get asked a lot by parents who are caught up in protracted battles with CPS over the issue of child neglect. And the truth is, it can be a little challenging to answer. Because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all response. After all, there are a lot of factors involved in deciding when it’s safe to leave your kids unattended at home.
Plus, as Brandy Thompson points out, “So many people google this question and get the wrong information with regard to ages and what’s appropriate. There’s so much bad info out there and parents have to be really careful!” So what is the right information, and where do Michigan parents go to get it?
There are guidelines you can follow provided by the state…
As we pointed out in the last article, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has guidelines in place that they use to help CPS workers determine if a child is old enough to handle being left on their own. (But remember: guidelines aren’t laws!)These are:
- Birth to 7 years – Children 7 and younger should not be left alone for any period of time. This includes at home, in cars, at public playgrounds, and even in backyards.
- 8 to 10 years – 8 to 10-year-old children can usually be left unattended for brief periods. If you choose to leave them unattended, it should not be for more than one and a half hours, and only during daylight or early evening hours.
- 11 to 12 years – 11 – 12-year-old children can usually be left alone for up to 3 hours, however not late at night, or in circumstances that require inappropriate responsibility, for example a situation where they would be responsible for several other younger children.
- 13 to 15 years – Teens aged 13 to 15 can normally be left unsupervised, but only during the day or evening, not overnight.
- 16 to 17 years – Teens aged 16 to 17 can usually be left unsupervised for longer periods of time. In some instances, when they are mature enough and are experienced in meeting daily needs without oversight, this can go on for up to two consecutive overnight periods.
But every child is different, and every situation is unique.
Always remember, when trying to figure out if your child is old enough to be left home alone, that their maturity levels and emotional development play a role in this as well. Consider your child’s decision making skills, their approach to personal responsibility, and their history of choices when left alone.
Age is certainly not the only factor that matters! A 14-year-old who is impulsive and doesn’t think through the consequences of their choices may be less likely to be safe alone than a 10-year-old who doesn’t take risks and follows instructions well. Always choose based on what you feel will be the safest and smartest for each individual child.
If CPS doesn’t agree with your parenting choices…
Despite the fact that the guidelines aren’t rules, there have been many times when parents have made choices for their children, and CPS has stepped in because they disagree. And when CPS doesn’t like the way you’re parenting your kids, you better believe you’ve got an uphill battle on your hands!
If that sounds like your situation, then you need to call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 and let our skilled and experienced CPS defense attorneys help you protect your parenting rights. We’ve helped many Michigan families defend themselves against CPS and their invasive and bullying tactics. We can help you too.