Q. At what age can I leave my child home alone?
A. While there is no law in Delaware regulating an appropriate age for a child to be left home alone, the Division of Family Services will accept for investigation any report of a child under the age of 12 being left alone. DFS will also accept reports for children age 12 and over if there are any extenuating circumstances (e.g. developmental delays, physical disabilities).
It is best for parents and guardians to take in consideration their child"s comfort level, abilities and overall behavior and to talk to them about potential dangers (fire safety, what to do if someone comes to the door, etc.) before making the decision to leave a child home alone.
Q. What help is available for my out-of-control teenager?
A. Unfortunately, the Delaware Children’s Department can only provide direct services to children who have suffered abuse, neglect, dependency, or have been adjudicated in the family court for criminal activity. While the Department does not offer any direct counseling services, there are other resources available.
Children and Families First offers a free Strengthening Families course that offers skills training to both the parents and children to better communicate with each other and work together as a family to resolve issues. They can be reached at 1-800-734-2388.
Another resource would be Child Inc. They offer a course entitled ‘Teens Come without Instructions’ and is designed also to strengthen communication and effective discipline of the teen. Child Inc can be reached at 762-8989.
The Delaware Helpline, 1-800-464-HELP (4357) or on the internet at delawarehelpline.org, is an informational center to help guide you to the services available.