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At what age can a child legally be left alone to care for themselves?

State child abuse and neglect reporting laws do not specify the age at which a child can be left home alone. You may want to contact your local police department or child protective services agency for information about specific local regulations or ordinances.

If you have concerns that a child is being left home alone inappropriately, you should report your concerns to the appropriate authorities, such as Child Protective Services (CPS), in the State in which the child lives. Each State has trained professionals who can evaluate the situation and determine whether intervention and services are needed. 

Most States have a toll-free number to call to report suspected abuse. Please refer to the related organizations listing at the Child Welfare Information Gateway for information about where to call to make a report within your State. If you need help in locating your local child protective services agency, you may call Childhelp® 24- hours a day, seven days a week at its toll-free number, 1.800.4 A CHILD® (1.800.422.4453).

For more information, see Leaving Your Child Home Alone (PDF-332 KB).

Category

Programs for Families and Children
Content created by Digital Communications Division (DCD)
Content last reviewed on October 2, 2015