Agencies across Northern Virginia* recently developed a set of “supervision guidelines” for parents to consider before leaving a child alone. These are not laws, but are suggested ages for parents to use as a guideline:
8 years (and younger) should always be in the care of a responsible person. Children this age should not be left unsupervised anywhere (homes, cars, playgrounds, yards, etc.).
9–10 years old may be ready to be left unsupervised up to 1.5 hours during daylight/early evening.
11–12 years old may be ready to be left unsupervised up to 3 hours during daylight/early evening.
13–15 years old may be ready to be left unsupervised more than 3 hours but not overnight.
16 years (and older) may be ready to be left unsupervised overnight for 1-2 days, with a plan in place.
Parents are ultimately responsible for their children. There is no “official” age that means a child has the skills and maturity level to be left alone. Consider specific circumstances and the child. Every child is different, maturing and developing life skills at very different ages. Even children in the same home are often ready at different ages!
* Northern Virginia jurisdictions involved in the development of these guidelines include those in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Manassas, Manassas Park and Prince William.
Read Alexandria guidelines here
Read Arlington guidelines here
Read Fairfax guidelines here
Read Loudoun guidelines here
Greater Prince William: 703-792-7500
Read Prince William guidelines here