** Please see the June 2009 update (or click on the Babysitting label). **
This is the time of year when the babysitting questions appear with increasing frequency. I’ve compiled a few sources of information to help answer some of the questions, but don’t expect the answers to be black and white. Little in life is.
The question we get most often is about what age a child must be before he or she can be left home alone. I refer people with that question to this Clackamas County web site because it explains it well. You may very well want to contact your own county’s Information or Sheriff’s office.
This Albany City web site addresses the babysitter-age and the home-alone question.
As you can see, there may not be a definitive age for babysitting or for being left alone, but more a matter of training, maturity, and other factors. I’ve heard of classes that are offered to new babysitters sometimes through local community colleges or community centers. Middle and high school teachers may know about other classes. The Red Cross has training too.
If there is a specific legal question involved (and not all babysitter questions are but some are lurking – babysitting is risky business for all parties involved) I recommend the parent contact the Oregon State Bar. The Oregon State Bar also has a Problem Solvers service that the teen might use him or herself. “Oregon lawyers volunteer as Problem Solvers to offer free legal information and advice to children. Any young person between the ages of 11 and 17 can call to request a referral to this program. Referrals include a thirty minute office visit with a volunteer lawyer. This service is not available in all areas. For more information, contact the LRS at 503-684-3763 or toll-free in Oregon: 800-452-7636.”
Let me know if you find other good resources.