At what age is it considered safe to leave a child home alone without adult supervision? Many parents wrestle with this question only to find that there are no definitive answers. The state of New Jersey does not have a law that states a specific age where it is appropriate to leave a child home alone for a specific period, so when does being left home alone constitute neglect?
Factors DCPP Officials Consider When a Child is Left Home Alone
Whatever the reason a child is left home alone, a concerned neighbor, relative, friend, teacher, or the child’s other parent may feel it is necessary to contact the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) to report possible neglect. There are several factors that DCPP investigators will consider when determining if the child is being neglected.
- Age and maturity of the child: The maturity of the child left alone at home is a major factor in determining their safety. A five-year-old child would be considered too young to be left alone for any reason while a 10 year old child may be considered reasonable.
- Cognitive ability of the child: Is the child able to determine risks involved to certain behaviors or situations? Are they able to answer the phone or follow directions for not answering the door?
- Physical and mental health of the child: Does the child have a medical illness that requires medication or treatment, such as asthma, diabetes, or food allergies? Was the child suffering from a fever or other health issue at the time they were left alone? Does the child suffer from developmental or cognitive deficits?
- The number of children left alone at one time: The number of children and their ages and maturity levels are factors to consider when leaving them home alone. How old was the child in charge and how young were the children left in their care?
- The amount of time the child was left alone at home: A parent that runs to the market to get bread and milk will be gone for a short period of time, but a parent that must leave a child alone during their work day may be gone as long as 10 hours.
- How often is the child left alone at home: Was the child left alone unsupervised for days at a time?
DCPP investigators will use these factors to determine if a child is in imminent danger from being left alone at home, or whether the parent may need extra support services to help them with childcare. Depending upon the results of the investigation, a child may be considered neglected if their physical or emotional needs are not being met, or if their safety is at stake.
New Jersey DCPP Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Represent Parents Charged with Neglect
If you are facing a DCPP investigation for possible neglect, call the New Jersey DCPP lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker at 856-210-9776 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey offices serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.