Parents and legal guardians are hit with tough decisions day "IN" and day "OUT". A multitude of what seems like all "gray answers." Hence, often some of the coined phrases of "parent fails", as we drink a glass of wine after a long day to tell ourselves; our own parents felt the same way. And if you're like us, the Crazy Aunt & Uncle; we really are out of our elements other than knowing how to have fun!

Home Alone

So now what about the really, really hard decisions? Not talking about if it's wrong to serve cereal for supper. We are talking about at "what age can a child be left unsupervised in a home alone?"

First off, is there a law clearing the mud on this? The answer is NO.

According to Heather Steffl, Public Information Officer at the North Dakota Dept. of Health and Human Services, "North Dakota does not have a state law that specifies the age a child can stay home alone. However, the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services has policy guidelines, which are used by the human service system in North Dakota."

The North Dakota Department of Health and Services Guidelines:

  • Examples: Children ages newborn to eight should be supervised at all times by a parent or other adult caregiver. A nine-year-old may be mature enough to be alone for up to two hours during the day, but never at night, and should not supervise other children.
  • For details, visit ND HHS child protection services policy on inadequate supervision.

No Black & White Rules: Each Child Is Unique

The ND Dept. HHS also wants folks to please know that a child’s age is not the only factor parents should consider when deciding if a child is ready to be home alone. Just because a child is age 12 or 13, one should not assume a child is ready to be unsupervised. Best to always ask oneself, "Is a parent or other trusted adult readily accessible if needed?"

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