Update to “Leaving Children Home Alone in Oregon”

See recent update (2/10/11), but also click on the Home Alone label at the bottom of this post.
In addition to my new Kids Home Alone in Oregon legal research guide and my rather lengthy previous post, from January 13, 2009, I add these:

1) A corrected link to the “What is the legal age for leaving a child home alone?” information at the Clackamas County Juvenile Department FAQ. This deep link changes periodically so don’t despair. Just hunt around a bit or leave a Comment here and I’ll look for the new link.

2) Oregonians, including law enforcement and DHS, are concerned with what is safe for the child, regardless of age, so make sure you check with your local social service and law enforcement offices.

3) Some local jurisdictions have their own laws about leaving kids on their own, anywhere, e.g. Portland’s City Code, which reads (as of this date):

14A.80.040 Unattended Minors in Vehicles.
It is unlawful for any person having the care and custody of a minor under 6 years of age to leave the minor unattended in a locked vehicle, or to leave the minor unattended in an unlocked vehicle for more than 15 minutes. A minor is unattended within the meaning of this Section if the oldest person with the minor is under the age of 10 years.”

4) The age of the child is not always specified in laws on when children in your care can be left on their own. And, sometimes more than one law pertains to your situation, which is why you may need professional advice. For example:

Abandonment of a child: It is considered “abandonment of a child” if a parent or guardian of a child under 15 years of age deserts their child in any place with intent to abandon him or her (ORS Chapter 163).

Child Neglect :The law says a person who has custody or control of a child under 10 years of age commits the crime of child neglect in the second degree if, with criminal negligence, the person leaves the child unattended in or at any place for such a period of time as may be likely to endanger the health or welfare of such child. Child neglect in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor (ORS Chapter 163).

There are also laws about failing to supervise a child: A person commits the offense of failing to supervise a child if the person who is the parent, lawful guardian or other person lawfully charged with the care or custody of a child under 15 years of age and the child:
a) Commits an act that brings the child within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a delinquent.
b) Violates a curfew law of the county or any other political subdivision, or
c) Fails to attend school as required by law (
ORS Chapter 163)

5) You will need to do the research and consult an attorney if your situation isn’t clear, or might not be clear to law enforcement or DHS.
6) I’ve also updated our Legal Research Guides on Children and Babysitting. You can find these guides and other legal research guides and links at the Washington County (Oregon) Law Library website.

  • Stephanie

    is site is very infomational and i love to read it over and over i love it

  • Anonymous

    so we talked with a police officer today because our daughter was left home alone for about 45 minutes while we ran into town to look at a house. There are 9 people in our family and only eight seats in our car so she said she would stay home while we went. she is 10 years old in a month. The officer told us that even though there are not enough seat belts for all the children that it is okay for two of them to ride buckeled together. I am pretty sure that this is illegal because the law states that every child needs to be safely and correctly buckled in a seat belt. So I have to say that I am ver4y confused as to what the law states. We can not afford to buy a new 15 passenger van or any new rig that has 9 or more seats in it so how do we try to rectify this problem?? Help please!

  • Anonymous

    The law only requires that if there is a belt available that it be utilized. If you are transporting more people than there are belts, I would suggest leaving the oldest home or at least making sure the kids have belts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12056837800029691236 Shaana

    My 6 yr old daughter knows the rules of the house, when to answer the door, what emergency numbers are and we have a neighbor that is always home in cases of emergency (fire, injury, etc.) We have an emergency fire drill in place in our one story home which she knows what to do in case of such. She is homeschooled and unfortunately I have a health appointment every week that I cannot find a sitter to cover. Is it illegal to leave her home for 2 hours while I go to this appointment? I have missed several because I'm not sure what “for any period of time as may be likely to endanger the health or welfare” of her.

  • Anonymous

    a 6 year old is way too young to be left alone, especially for 2 hours.

  • Anonymous

    can a 10 year old babysit her 8 year old sibling after school until around 7:30 when I get home from work?

  • Anonymous

    Can the 6 year-old go with you to the appointment, then sit and color in the waiting room? This seems like a more safe alternative. If the Dr.'s office won't accomodate this, I would find another Doctor.

  • Anonymous

    Are you kidding!? A 6 year old girl is going to be way safer at home in a familiar environment, with expected routines and surroundings; than alone for 10 minutes in a doctors office waiting room.

    The probability for getting lost, distracted, abducted, abused, harrassed etc is infinitely higher in an unfamiliar environment outside your control (ie, the doctor's office), than it is at home.

  • stella

    Birth control. If you can’t afford to prevent a situation like this, maybe it’s time to take a reproductive break and save up the would-be diaper money for that 15-passenger.