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Wondering if you can let your kids walk to the park or wait in the car for a few minutes — legally?
This list should help.
At Free-Range Kids, we believe parents are the best judges of what their kids are ready for, when. But the sad fact is, some loving and responsible parents have found themselves in legal trouble when a busybody or law enforcement official perceived their actions as unacceptable.
Until the day we see the Free-Range Kids and Parents Bill of Rights become the law of the land — a bill stating kids have the right to spend some time unsupervised, and parents have the right to let them — here’s a guide to state child welfare laws.
You’ll see that 19 states have specific laws about when it is legal to leave a child in a car. Five states have laws that specify what age a child can be home alone, and 10 states have “guidelines.” For states that don’t have these, the child neglect laws are the next most relevant sources of information. You can find them here.
This list is not a legal document and some localities have rules and guidelines even when the state does not. But we hope this at least provides a starting point. It was compiled by my incredible assistant, Paul Best, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill. If you have any questions or inquiries or local laws to add, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.