In Georgia, child maltreatment can include children who are left unsupervised for long periods of time. There are state guidelines administered by the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to evaluate situations and determine if a child neglect investigation is warranted.
The most important consideration is whether a child is old enough and responsible enough to be left alone in a manner that ensures a healthy and safe environment. Georgia’s guidelines for leaving a child without adult supervision include the following :
- Children under 8 years old should never be left alone, even for short periods of time.
Children between the ages of 9 and 12, based on level of maturity, can be left home alone for brief periods of time.
- Children between 13 and 15 years of age can generally be left as babysitters, with the exception of children in foster care. However, it is not recommended that 13-year-olds baby sit infants, small children or children requiring special attention due to medical conditions.
Other safety guidelines for children include:
- Don’t leave a child responsible for food preparation that involves the stove.
- Even with children who are old enough to be left alone, make a safety plan that includes 911 and rehearse it with your child. Also arrange for neighbors or friends to check in with your child during the time he or she is unsupervised.
- Always make sure you know where your small child is. Double check your vehicle when you leave it. Check your driveway before backing your vehicle into the street.
- Do not leave your small child unattended in shopping malls or other public places, including gas stations, even for a moment.