Supervision Guidelines

Failure to provide for necessary supervision or child care arrangements occurs when a child is unable to provide for their own basic needs or safety, or the basic needs or safety of another child in their care.

Download the Supervision Guidelines (PDF).

Modifying Factors

Modifying factors affecting screening decisions include:

  • A child's age, mental ability and maturity level
  • The accessibility of the parent, guardian or designated caretaker to the child by phone and / or in person
  • The presence of intellectual deficits, psychological problems, or mental health concerns; the existence of physical problems or disabilities
  • The behavioral history of a child, including suicidal thoughts or actions, fire setting, delinquency, vandalism, or assault.
  • A child's age, if using the kitchen stove, an iron, or other appliance
  • The establishment of a well understood escape plan that has been worked out by the parent(s), or fire drill practice that has been rehearsed with a child. The presence of a working fire / smoke detector in the home.
  • A child feeling confident and safe when left alone.


Examples of parent(s) not providing adequately for a child's supervision and safety include, but not limited to:

  • Failing to provide supervision of children in: 
    • Bathtubs
    • Busy streets and alleys
    • Holding tanks
    • Lakes
    • Machinery
    • Near swimming pools
    • Ponds 
  • Selecting an unreliable or unsafe person to provide child care

Inadequate Supervision

Reports alleging inadequate supervision or child care arrangements may be screened in for a child protection response, including:

  • Children age 7 and under who are left alone for any period of time
  • Children ages 8 to 10 who are left alone for more than three hours
  • Children ages 11 to 13 who are left alone for more than 12 hours
  • Children ages 14 to 15 who are left alone for more than 24 hours
  • Children ages 16 to 17 may be left alone for over 24 hours with a plan in place concerning how to respond to an emergency
  • Children ages - 5 are never to be left unattended
  • For children ages 6 to 7, the agency will take into consideration the totality of circumstances around the situation

Inadequate Child Care

Reports alleging inadequate child care arrangements may be screened in for a child protection response according to the following guidelines:

  • Children under age 11 should not provide child care
  • Children ages 11 to 15 who are placed in a child care role are subject to the same time restrictions of being left alone as listed above
  • Children ages 16 to 17 may be left alone for more than 24 hours with adequate adult back up supervision


If children are left alone at the time the report is received by the local child welfare agency, and the circumstances fall outside of the timelines listed above, the local agency may refer the matter to local law enforcement for a child welfare and safety check.