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  • It is up to the parents to decide if their child is ready and capable of taking care of themselves for a few hours during the day.
  • The recommended age for staying home alone is no younger than 12, according to The National SAFEKIDS Campaign.

With school out during the summer, some working parents struggle to find childcare, babysitters, summer camps and other ways to keep their children safe and occupied. 

Some children might even stay home alone while their parents are working. But is it safe and legal for a child to stay home alone in Ohio?

Here’s what to know. 

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Can children stay home alone in the state of Ohio?

As of now, there is no Ohio law that indicates a child at any age cannot be left alone unattended, according to the Ohio Department of Children and Youth. A child’s ability to make safe decisions and sense of maturity should be taken into consideration when a parent is deciding if they should leave them home alone. 

According to NBC4, Ohio and 34 other states do not have a specific minimum age for staying home. Illinois has the highest age requirement with a minimum of 14, while Maryland and North Carolina have the lowest age requirement of 8.

Ohio has laws for child abandonment

According to Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules, Ohio has specific laws surrounding child abandonment. Abandonment is when a parent fails to communicate with, provide for, and maintain their minor, a child under 18. 

It is considered abandonment when a parent fails to visit or maintain contact with a child under 18 for more than 90 days, according to Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules.

How to keep your child safe while you’re away

The recommended age for staying home alone is no younger than 12, according to The National SAFEKIDS Campaign. However, children mature at different rates, so it is up to the parents to decide if their child is ready and capable of taking care of themselves for a few hours during the day. 

Here are some helpful tips to keep your child safe while you’re away, according to the Ohio Department of Children and Youth.

1. Communicate with your child

Kids might be excited or scared to be left home alone. So, it’s essential to have an open and honest discussion with your child about whether or not they’re ready to stay home alone. 

Take time to discuss their responsibilities, your rules and expectations, and what they should know while being alone, including: 

  • What to do when someone knocks on the door
  • What to do when they feel unsafe
  • What to do when emergencies arise

2. Create a safety plan with your child

Anything can happen to your child, so it’s important to create a plan in case of emergencies. Your child should know how to use devices in the house, how to lock and unlock doors and windows, and what to do during an emergency. 

It’s important for you and your child to have these things handy: 

  • Your contact information
  • Information sheet with emergency contacts in case you’re unreachable

In addition, it might be wise to inform a close friend, nearby family member, or neighbor that your child will be home alone while you’re at work. 

3. Create a schedule for them to follow

It’s good to make a schedule full of fun and safe activities for your child to follow. These activities can include summer reading programs, coloring, and watching family-friendly movies. 

4. Have easy snacks and meal prep

While you’re away, your child will have to fix something themselves while they’re hungry. Be sure to keep meals and easy snacks prepared, ones that can be eaten cold or easily microwaved. Avoid making food that requires the use of a conventional oven.