For many parents, it can be a nerve-racking time to decide when it is ok or appropriate to leave your child home alone. Some states have actual laws when it is allowed but that is not the case in Minnesota. There is no actual law in place just more guidelines to help parents or guardians decide when the time is right.

Obviously, the parent or guardian is the one who knows their child best and needs to use common sense when they make this decision. Some kids are more mature than others at a certain age and so that is a big factor. However, there are general laws that require adequate and appropriate supervision of children.

Since Minnesota does not have a set age on this subject most counties rely on the MN Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines regarding the safe supervision of a child. Here are their guidelines:

Children:

• Under the age of 8 are never left alone for any period of time

• Ages 8-10 may be left alone for less than three hours

• Ages 11-13 may be left alone for less than 12 hours

• Ages 14-15 may be left alone for less than 24 hours

• Ages 16-17 may be left alone for longer if there is a plan in place about how to respond to an emergency

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So what about babysitting? This is a big deal for a lot of kids and a way to make some extra money. I know that my nieces actually enrolled in babysitting classes and became certified. Looking back I believe I was about 12 years old when I first started babysitting, but that was a million years ago and it was my next-door neighbor.

As far as babysitting guidelines it is suggested nobody under the age of 11 should supervise other children, but again this is all based on the individual child. Many kids are put in charge of younger siblings. I also know many people who grew up as part of the latchkey generation where they were on their own after school at a pretty young age because their parents were at work. Again each situation is different. Communication is the key with your child and just make sure you have a backup plan and phone numbers available for them in case of an emergency.

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