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    Leaving children home alone, Ark. state law

    11:52 PM, May 30, 2012   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- With most children out of school for the summer, the issue of child care is facing thousands of Arkansas families. But at what age can a child legally be there own caregiver while their parent is at work?

    In Arkansas, there isn't one. That decision is left up to the parents and while most people would never leave an infant or toddler alone for safety reasons, an exact age that is appropriate is still up for debate.

    It is a perfect day to play for Aaron and Christine Koch of Benton and their two sons, Noah and Sam. "We are both teachers so it's really nice. Their schedule is our schedule," says Christine Koch.

    The Koch's say that schedule along with their sons' ages, 7 and 4, ensure they are never left home alone. "We both work with 6th and 7th graders and it's definitely a maturity level depending on each individual," says Christine Koch.

    Maturity is what the Department of Human Services says they look at when it comes to keeping children safe.

    "We don't want to give an age limit and then, or an age when it's okay and then maybe that child isn't mature enough to stay home alone and something happens," says DHS Director of Communications, Amy Webb.

    Webb says the department handles each case individually with several factors playing a role.

    "Our case workers will not just look at the maturity of the child. They will also look at what steps the parents have taken to ensure the child is safe when they aren't there," says Webb.

    "Do they know what to do if something did happen? If someone came to the door, if there was an accident, would they know what to do? As long as I felt they could without us, I guess they could but until then, I think no," says Aaron Koch.

    For now, the Koch's say their sons will be staying by their side and the role of "The One in Charge" will stay with them.

    "Maybe third grade, we might start talking to him about certain things. Maybe he could stay home but we wouldn't put him responsible for him," says Christine Koch.

    The Department of Human Services says there are a few things your child should know before they are left alone, such as the names and contact numbers for their caregivers. They say parents should provide a phone for the child in case of an emergency as well as neighbors or friends they can turn to close by.

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