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Director of Social Services
Kiva Rogers

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Switchboard - (804) 748-1100
Fax -(804) 748-1824

8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Monday - Friday

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Department of Social Services
9501 Lucy Corr Circle
Chesterfield, VA 23832Map this 

Social Services
Home Alone Safety

10 Things to Consider Before Leaving your Child Home Alone 

Virginia law is not specific about the age a child may be left alone, but the decision should never be based on age alone. Determining whether a child and your family are ready for self-care is a difficult first step.

Things to Consider

  1. Maturity Level  
    • Is your child "old" or "young" for his/her age level?
    • Children develop at different rates.
    • Look at your child's physical, mental, & emotional maturity.
    • One child may be able to care for him or herself, while another of the same age may need supervision.
  2. Responsibility Level  
    • Does your child use good judgment; follow directions, and complete homework and chores?
    • Look at your child's past performance in carrying out responsibilities as an indicator.
  3. Attitude & Feelings  
    • Is your child comfortable staying home alone?
    • Some children feel proud that their parents trust them to be alone, but others feel deserted.
    • How does your child feel about the possibility of self-care?
  4. Time of Day  
    • Will your child be home alone in the afternoon, evening, or both?
    • Does your child get scared easily when it is dark outside?
  5. Length of Time  
    • How long will your child be in self-care?
    • Some children are capable of being home alone for longer periods of time than others.
    • Start by leaving your child for a short period of time, talk to them about how it went, and gradually work up to longer periods of time.
  6. Parental Support  
    • Can you be reached easily at work? How far away are you each day? Does your child feel comfortable coming to you with a problem?
    • There are fewer negative effects of self-care when parents have a strong, caring relationship with their children, and give them consistent direction & support.
  7. Community Support  
    • Is there a neighbor or another trusted adult your child can go to or call if there's a problem?
    • It is important to have an identified trusted adult, preferably nearby, know that your child is home alone in case you cannot be reached.
  8. Number of Children  
    • How do your children typically interact?
    • Parents must be very clear as to which child is responsible for supervision and teach them appropriate parenting and disciplinary skills.
    • A child who is ready for self-care may not be ready to supervise siblings.
  9. Neighborhood Safety  
    • Are there well marked safe places?
    • Is your neighborhood well lit?
    • Can your child safely cross the street?
    • Are there problems with other people in the neighborhood (bullies, crime, or gangs)?
  10. Home Safety
    • Are rules & expectations clearly stated & understood?
    • Have responses to home & medical emergencies been taught & practiced?
    • Children should have clear set limits about what appliances they can operate and how to handle situations such as phone calls and strangers at the door.
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