How Old Should My Child Be Before I Leave Them Alone?

by Liz Jones | November 30, 2019 1:00 am


By DullesMoms, Dec 2019


Tempted to leave your kiddo at home alone? Check out your county’s/city’s suggested guidelines for how long it might be safe to leave a child unsupervised below. If you need a night out, we have a calendar dedicated to Parent Night Opportunities[1]. Also, be sure to check out these places[2] that offer on-demand and drop-in childcare.

CHOOSE YOUR COUNTY/AREA:

• Fairfax County[3]
• Loudoun County[4]
• Prince William County[5]
• Arlington County[6]
• City of Alexandria[7]
• Washington, DC[8]


FAIRFAX COUNTY

Birth to Age 8:
Should always be in the care of a responsible person. Children this age should never be left unsupervised in homes, cars, playgrounds, or yards (Source[9]).

9- to 10-years-old:
May be ready to be left unsupervised up to 1.5 hours during daylight and early evening hours (Source[9]).

11- to 12-years-old:
May be left alone for up to 3 hours during daylight and early evening hours (Source[9]).

13- to 15-years-old:
May be left unsupervised for more than three hours but not overnight (Source[9]).

16- to 17-years-old:
May be left unsupervised overnight for one to two days with a plan in place (Source[9]).


LOUDOUN COUNTY

Birth to Age 8:
Should not be left unsupervised for any period of time (Source[10]).

9- to 10-years-old:
May be ready to be left unsupervised up to 1.5 hours during daylight and early evening hours (Source[10]).

11- to 12-years-old:
May be left alone for up to 3 hours during daylight and early evening hours (Source[10]).

13- to 15-years-old
May be left unsupervised for more than three hours but not overnight (Source[10]).

16- to 17-years-old:
May be left unsupervised overnight for one to two days with a plan in place (Source[10]).


PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY

Birth to Age 8:
Should not be left unsupervised for any period of time (Source[11]).

9- to 11-years-old:
Should not be left unsupervised for more than 1.5 hours alone and only during daylight and early evening (Source[11]).

12- to 15-years-old:
May be left unsupervised all day (Source[11]).

16- to 17-years-old:
May be left unsupervised all night and over the weekend (Source[11]).


ARLINGTON COUNTY

Birth to Age 8:
Should not be left unsupervised for any period of time. This includes leaving children unattended in cars, playgrounds, and yards (Source[12]).

9- to 10-years-old:
Should not be left unsupervised for more than 1.5 hours and only during daylight and early evening hours (Source[12]).

11- to 12-years-old:
May be left alone for up to 3 hours but not late at night or in circumstances requiring adult supervision (Source[12]).

13- to 15-years-old:
May be left unsupervised but not overnight (Source[12]).

16- to 17-years-old:
May be left unsupervised for up to two consecutive overnight periods (Source[12]).


CITY OF ALEXANDRIA

Birth to Age 9:
Should not be left unsupervised for any period of time (Source[13]).

10- to 12-years-old:
Should not be left unsupervised for more than 3 hours (Source[13]).

13- to 18-years-old:
May be left unsupervised for 3 hours or more (Source[13]).

Under 16-years-old:
Should not be left unsupervised overnight (Source[13]).


WASHINGTON, DC

Washington, DC law does not provide age-specific child supervision guidelines; parents are expected to use their own good judgment. However, they do provide some insight into when leaving a child alone can cross the line into neglect.

In general, infants and young children should not be left unsupervised for any period of time. For older children, how long they may be left unsupervised depends on their individual maturity level, and they note that there is a difference between leaving a child or teen at home unsupervised for a couple of hours during the day versus all day, overnight, or for several days. The less time children are left unsupervised, the lower the risk (Source[14]).
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Endnotes:
  1. Parent Night Opportunities: https://dullesmoms.com/pno/
  2. these places: https://dullesmoms.com/tag/on-demand-care/
  3. Fairfax County: https://dullesmoms.com/how-old-should-my-child-be-before-i-leave-them-alone/#Fairfax
  4. Loudoun County: https://dullesmoms.com/how-old-should-my-child-be-before-i-leave-them-alone/#Loudoun
  5. Prince William County: https://dullesmoms.com/how-old-should-my-child-be-before-i-leave-them-alone/#PrinceWilliam
  6. Arlington County: https://dullesmoms.com/how-old-should-my-child-be-before-i-leave-them-alone/#Arlington
  7. City of Alexandria: https://dullesmoms.com/how-old-should-my-child-be-before-i-leave-them-alone/#Alexandria
  8. Washington, DC: https://dullesmoms.com/how-old-should-my-child-be-before-i-leave-them-alone/#DC
  9. Source: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/familyservices/children-youth/child-supervision-guidelines
  10. Source: https://www.loudoun.gov/supervision
  11. Source: https://rockledgees.pwcs.edu/UserFiles/Servers/Server_410401/File/Parents/Prince%20William%20County%20Child%20Supervision%20Guidelines.pdf
  12. Source: http://family.arlingtonva.us/child-welfare/young-young-home-alone/
  13. Source: https://alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/humanservices/info/homealone.pdf
  14. Source: http://cfsa.dc.gov/page/faqs-cfsa

Source URL: https://dullesmoms.com/how-old-should-my-child-be-before-i-leave-them-alone/