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Children staying home alone

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With kids going back to school, some parents are deciding what to do about after school care. Some kids go to daycare, some stay with relatives while others may be left at home. Kids who arrive home to an empty house are often called latch key kids. We found out the state has a set age limit for parents to follow. Kathleen Herrmann is a typical mom, busy juggling work and family life. After school, six-year-old Tyler, and 11-year-old Kaylee go home with grandma, but 13-year-old Ryan, does not. "I just want to make sure that he can stay by himself," said Herrmann. But is 13 an appropriate age to leave a child at home by himself? A state law says yes. Jamie Collins of the NHC Dept. of Social Services said, "Children under the age of 8 cannot be confined to a home or a car." Collins says parents should consider the child's maturity level before considering letting them stay by themselves. Collins suggests talking with your child first to see if they want to stay alone. If they do, do a test run by leaving them at home for just 30 minutes, or an hour. Finally, have a plan in place so the child has a regular routine and knows what to do in case of an emergency. Another tip is to keep kids involved in extra curricular activities. Of course, not all children are capable of staying by themselves. If you suspect a child is being neglected or abused, call your local department of social services for help.

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