A new bill has been introduced to the The Illinois House of Representatives that would allow children 12 years or older would be able to babysit and would also lower the age a child could be home alone from 14 to 12. Currently, under state law, a child under 14 who is left without supervision for “an unreasonable amount of time” is considered neglected and the parent or guardian can be subject to criminal charges. The most average age children are allowed to be left alone across the country is 10-years-old, while some state’s like Kansas allow children to be as young as 6.
“Many were shocked to find out that 14 was the age. It’s one of those bills I think a lot of families and parents don’t even realize that it’s out there and we’re one of the most strict in all of the nation,” said Illinois State Representative Joe Sosnowski, the proponent of the new legislation. “Illinois has by far the most restrictive law of its kind in the nation. My bill would reduce the threshold to children under the age of 12, recognizing that working parents who struggle to afford child care should not live under the fear of losing their kids simply for working hard to support their family,” said Sosnowski.
Sosnowski believes this bill will help protect working families from being charged with child neglect or abandonment and lose custody of their kids.
“The bottom line is we don’t want families to be arrested if a student is at home at age 13 and is not quite according to the law. A lot of times it will happen in an odd situation where maybe someone’s home alarm goes off accidentally, the police end up responding and they find out that there’s a 12 or 13-year-old at home, but again if you have a state law, it’s very tough for police officers to ignore that law,” said Sosnowski. “We need to look at families, give them the responsibility to make those decisions, especially if the parents are confident in the maturity of their own children. We’ll see if there is a general consensus, but I think it’s a good legislation at this time,” said Sosnowski.
The Illinois House of Representatives is scheduled to return to Springfield this week for the start of the 2018 session. That will be the first day this bill can be assigned to a committee for review.
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