Kids are on summer break, and that often means a challenge for parents to find backup child care. Some options are available through schools and park-and-recreation programs, said Karen Fogolin, associate director of Child Care Aware, while other parents may seek out a local teenager or college student. When doing so, she said, parents should check on things such as first-aid skills and cardiopulmonary-resuscitation training. “Certainly if they’re hiring a teenager or a college student,” she said, parents should ask, ” ‘Is that the only person that will be there? Will they have their friends over?’ They just need to know who’s around their children, how they’re being supervised, what activities are happening and to check in throughout the day.” With any type of care, Fogolin said, the key is to be informed. Some parents may consider leaving their older kids at home alone if care is not available. Fogolin said knowing when a child is ready to be alone can be a tricky question. “It’s really knowing how responsible is your child,” she said. “Do they know when to call 911? Do they know basic first aid, not to answer the door to strangers, sort of those household safety rules? And the other thing, too, to think about is are they comfortable with it?” Kentucky law does not provide a specific age a child must be before he or she may be left home. However, the National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child younger than age 12 be at home alone. Advice on backup care is online at childcareawaremn.org. Home-alone guidelines are here.
Photo by Greg Stotelmyer