South Dakota kids can legally stay home at any age – South Dakota leads the U.S. in the highest statewide average number of unsupervised children, leaving thousands of children without a place to go after school, and straining parents and childcare providers to fit their needs because of a lack of funding.
State law doesn’t mandate a minimum age to leave children at home alone, and no bill or resolution to that end has surfaced in Pierre for over two decades.
But in a state where agriculture is the No. 1 industry, passing such a law might be more of a hindrance than a benefit.
“I encourage free-range parenting, but at an age when it’s safer,” Morgan Kontz, a Colman parent and first-generation farmer, said.”Our 3-year-old can’t be free-ranging by himself, but our daughter is 6, and she knows the rules.”
Only two state laws closely relate to unsupervised children. One outlines the rights of minors, and another addresses abused and neglected children. But determining whether a child is abused or neglected because of circumstances related to a child being left home alone or unsupervised appears to be on a case-by-case basis, Legislative Research Attorney Emily Kerr said.
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