The Law On Leaving Kids Home Alone - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

The Law On Leaving Kids Home Alone

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UPSTATE, S.C. -

For kids, summertime equals fun. For many parents, it's a challenge.

New mom Karen Anderson also watches her niece while she's out of school. It's her sister's only affordable option right now.

"It help her a lot so she can get out and go places herself too," said Karen.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services offers help for families who can't afford child care through the ABC Child Care Program. If you qualify, the program provides vouchers to help you pay for child care so you can work.

Miss Eddie's Child Development Center in Spartanburg began accepting the vouchers years ago after seeing that many parents here need it.

"A lot of them want to work and they just can't because they can't afford it," said Assistant Director Felicia Spurgeon-Norris. "And with this program, they can afford to work and put their children in quality child care."

Determining whether or not your child is legally old enough to stay home alone depends on where you live.

In South Carolina there is no law determining when your child can be left alone. The state statute says it's considered child neglect if a parent fails to provide "supervision appropriate to the child's age and development".

Georgia also doesn't have a law specifying an age but does have guidelines stating children under 8 should never be left alone.

In North Carolina, the state's fire code says any child younger than 8 can't be left alone due to risk of fire danger.

Safe Kids Upstate says it depends on each child's maturity level.

"You never want to leave a child alone who is not able to walk down the street by themselves or who doesn't know the next door neighbor if they need assistance or know your phone number to call," said Cynthia Fryer, manager of Safe Kids Upstate in Greenville.

The Children's Law Center in South Carolina says it's really a case by case basis. It would be up to a family court judge to determine the penalty if a parent is accused of neglecting their child for leaving them home alone.

If you need child care but can't afford it, go to your county DSS office to apply for help.

Fryer says you can also contact Safe Kids Upstate for help in determining whether or not your child is ready to stay home alone.

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