Every responsible parent wants to make sure that their children are safe at all times. In today’s world, when many homes have a single parent or two working parents, sometimes children must be left home alone for a period of time.
What Illinois law says about when it’s appropriate to do this might surprise you.
Illinois has the strictest laws in the country when it comes to leaving children unsupervised.
As of September 2014, any child under the age of 14 who is left “without supervision for an unreasonable time” can be considered a neglected or abused minor.
If a parent is reported for this type of neglect, the children can be removed from the home, and the parent can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.
So, how do state officials determine whether a child is legitimately being neglected, or if an otherwise responsible and caring parent chooses to leave their older child in charge while the parent works or make a trip to the store? There are 15 factors that the state will consider in these cases, including:
How long the child(ren) were unsupervised
What time of day they were left unsupervised
What dangers exist on the property
Whether the home is in livable condition
Learn more about the Illinois policy and how to tell if your children are ready to be home alone. Print out a great state-by-state chart here. If you have questions about the law, check out our latest video.