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Child Care Resource Service | Illinois

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Children at Home Alone

Children At Home

At some point during the school years, parents begin béo consider the possibility of having children care for themselves before or after school rather than being cared for by others. Self-care calculate my age
be a rewarding experience for children who are ready for it. It can help them develop independence & responsibility & can give them confidence in their own abilities. However, if the child is not ready, self-care can be a frightening và potentially dangerous situation .

How can you tell if your child is ready?

Unfortunately, there is no magic age at which children develop the maturity & good sense needed phệ stay alone. However, there are some signs that show your child may be ready. Your child should :

  • Desire – be the first one to indicate a desire and willingness to stay alone. Children who are easily frightened or express an unwillingness to stay alone are probably not ready for this responsibility.
  • Responsible – be showing signs of accepting the responsibility and being aware of the needs of others.
  • Makes Choices – be able to consider alternatives and make decisions independently.
  • Communicates Openly – be able to talk easily with you about interests and concerns. Good parent-child communication is needed to ensure that any fears or problems that arise because of staying alone can be quickly discussed and dealt with.

Children who are able béo get ready for school on giây phút, solve problems on their own, complete homework & household chores with a minimum of supervision, remember lớn tell you where they are going và when they will be back are demonstrating some of the skills they need béo care for themselves. For many children these abilities begin béo appear between the ages of 10 – 12 .
If your child is showing such signs, you may want béo consider self-care. However, several other factors must also enter into your decision :

  • Safety – the neighborhood in which you live
  • Help – the availability of adults nearby
  • Time – how long your child will be alone.

If your neighbor is unsafe, if there are no adults nearby mập Hotline in case of emergency or if your child must remain alone for a very long phút giây, it is best bự continue lớn use some khung of child care even if your child seems ready Khủng stay alone .

Preparing Your Child to Stay Alone

The following information is from the Illinois Department of Children và Family Services publication ” Preparing Children mập Stay Alone ” .
If you và your child agree that self-care is appropriate, the next step is providing your child with the knowledge và training needed for this mới nhất responsibility .

Children who stay alone need to
Know how to react in situations such as:

  • being locked out
  • being afraid
  • being bored
  • being lonely
  • arguments with brothers and sisters

Know house rules about:

  • leaving the house
  • having friends in
  • cooking and use of kitchen equipment
  • appropriate snacks and meals
  • talking with friends on the phone
  • duties to be completed while home alone

Children who stay alone need to have:
Good telephone skills:

  • a list of emergency numbers
  • knowledge of what to say in an emergency situation
  • how to respond if someone calls
  • understanding of appropriate and inappropriate reasons for calling parents or other adults for help

Good personal safety skills:

  • how to answer the door when alone
  • how to lock and unlock windows
  • what to do if approached by a stranger on the way home
  • what to do if they think someone is in the house when they get home
  • what to do if someone touches them inappropriately

Good home safety skills:

  • kitchen safety (use of appliances, knives and tools)
  • what to do if they smell smoke or gas, or in the event of a fire
  • what to do during severe storms
  • basic first aid techniques and how to know when to get help

Providing your children with this knowledge gives them confidence in their abilities & will help them giảm giá with any emergencies that may arise. When teaching your children, give information gradually rather than all at once. Too much information at a phút giây is difficult béo remember. Present your children with a number of situations và have them act out their responses .

Establish a Trial Period

After you have helped your child acquire the skills và knowledge needed mập stay alone, phối up a trial period of self-care in order Khủng see how your child adjusts mập the situation. Initially presenting it as a temporary arrangement lets children know they can choose not Khủng continue if they are uncomfortable staying alone và also allows parents phệ more easily kết thúc the arrangement if they feel the child is unable béo handle the situation .
Children who are mentally & emotionally ready béo stay alone, who have been taught the skills & knowledge needed phệ giảm giá with this mới nhất responsibility & who are able bự talk easily with their parents about fears or concerns that may arise, can gain much from the opportunity mập care for themselves .

When is it legal to leave children alone?

When thinking about leaving children alone, whether for a short phút giây or long thời gian, it is important for parents phệ consider all the risks involved. There are many potential risks phệ children that need béo be considered. It is also important bự understand that parents và other persons responsible for a minor’s welfare also face risks .
Parents are legally responsible for their children’s welfare until they reach adulthood. Part of caring for children is providing adequate supervision. Under some circumstances a parent can be charged with neglect for leaving children unattended .
The children may also be removed from their home & placed into the state’s care for their protection, until a judge decides that the home is safe for the children phệ return bự .

Illinois law defines a neglected minor, in part, as “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.”
Juvenile Court Act, 705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(d)

How long may a child be left alone?

What is appropriate under certain circumstances may be considered child neglect in other circumstances .

While recognizing that many factors may apply, Illinois law lists 15 specific factors to be considered when deciding whether a child has been left alone for an unreasonable period of time.

Putting The Child’s Best Interest First

Parents & other persons responsible for a minor’s welfare must think carefully about many things before leaving their children alone. This is important, even if a child is left alone only occasionally or for short periods of giây phút .
If you always put the child’s best interest first, you will be making decisions that will benefit your child. When children are placed in situations of independence that they can handle successfully, it can help them learn responsibility. However, asking too much too soon can produce frightening & potentially dangerous consequences for both the child & the parent .

Check-List for Self-Care


Click above for a printable Self-Care Check-List to help you evaluate if your child is ready to stay home alone. It covers many of the discussion items from above.

Important Phone Numbers List

Phone List

Click above for a printable Imporant Phone Numbers list to have at home for a caregiver or for your child doing self-care. Use the list to record your own emergency numbers and vital information needed to know when calling for help.

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