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Justice with Jessica: At what age can kids stay home alone?

How young is too young?
grateful kids
Posted at 11:50 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 13:50:47-04

Parents across the country are dealing with a tough combination of challenges: As prices rise for nearly every item, many working parents are in need of summer childcare, which can get expensive. The obstacle is making some parents consider whether their child is old enough to be left at home alone.

Colorado law is blurry when it comes to the perfect age to leave kids home alone, but there are a few factors to consider.

"The law in Colorado doesn't actually give a specific age where it says that a child is too young to be left home alone," said Joyce H. Akhahenda, a defense attorney.

While there is no set age for kids to be left home alone in Colorado, state labor laws allow a child to work for pay as a babysitter at the age of 12. Twelve is close to the age that many parents feel comfortable allowing their child to care for themselves for a few hours.

"It's generally kind of accepted that kids can stay home alone as young as 10," Akhahenda said. "But there isn't any specific age. What parents have to take into consideration is their individual child."

Akhahenda suggests considering whether a child knows how to dial 911 or get in touch with caregivers in the case of an emergency.

Also, consider whether the child is mentally and emotionally capable of spending time on their own.

While there's no clear rule on the age that a child can stay at home alone, if they're found to be too young to care for themselves for a few hours, caregivers may have to answer to the Department of Human Services.

Akhahenda said parents could face felony charges if a young child is severely injured while they're home by themselves.