Is it illegal to leave kids home alone, unattended with no adult supervision, in Maine? The short answer is no. In fact, Maine, along with dozens of other states, does not have a specified law or guideline on the books that deems it illegal to have a child home alone.
In Maine, it is left up to parents and guardians to decide when to have children home alone. But when does it become neglect?
Claims of Neglect In Maine
According to 'Guide to Child Welfare' provided from Maine's Office of Child and Family Services on Maine.gov, a reason why someone may submit a report to Child Protective Services includes "a young child who is left alone." Anyone can make a report to which a social worker will follow up to determine if neglect claims are substantiated.
What Social Workers Consider the Right Age
A recent study published in 2019 surveyed social workers about what age is appropriate to leave kids home alone. They answered at least 12 years old if being left alone for four hours or more. This study also shared that if a child becomes injured while left alone, this may be considered neglect.
Substantiated Neglect In Maine
A child's right in the State of Maine is to have "the need and right to be nurtured and live safely in their homes," which includes safety and supervision as well as protection from neglect. Anyone can submit a claim of neglect for a child but, once reviewed by Child Protection Services, the claim must have substantiated information to show neglect.
A substantiated claim of neglect from maine.gov include the following, which does not really define neglect of a child when it comes to leaving them home alone:
- "That individual failed to provide essential food, clothing shelter, care, supervision, medical and/or mental health treatment when that failure caused or was very likely to cause a serious injury, serious illness or serious impairment in the near future that required or would require treatment; or
- That individual poses a threat of neglect based on the identification of a sign of danger supported by an analysis of available information and/or a lack of parental protective capacity;"
What to Keep In Mind As A Maine Parent
While Maine does not have any laws or guidelines on the matter it does seem that if the child becomes injured while unsupervised and alone at home, there could grounds for neglect against and parent or guardian.
There are plenty of resources to help you assess the risk of leaving a child home alone. ChildWelfare.gov created a document to help you assess the risk, as well as provide parents with tips and resources for making the decision.
In the end, it's a choice the parent or guardian decides.