Illinois ‘babysitting bill’ would lower age that a child can be left home alone

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State lawmakers advanced a bill Wednesday, designed to provide protection for Illinois parents.  69th District State Representative Joe Sosnowski is behind the legislation.  It’s referred to as the “Babysitting Bill.”  The bipartisan measure would lower the minimum age at which a child can be left home alone.  Sosnowski says it will keep well meaning parents from being charged with child neglect and abandonment.    

“This bill will basically drop that age to 12 years of age and above will be allowed without any hostile repercussions on parents being charged with neglect.” said Sosnowski.

Currently in Illinois, any child under 14 cannot be left unsupervised for “an unreasonable amount of time.”  Some states allow children as young as 6 to be home alone without supervision.  Rockford parent Gina Bumphrey doesn’t want Illinois to change.

“Some kids might be mature enough at 12 to deal with it, but not all kids.” said Bumphrey.  “And in most instances, I think, most kids are better off being a little bit older, more mature, to take care of themselves.”

State Representative Joe Sosnowski thinks parents shouldn’t have to worry about breaking the law and believes the bill will help relieve some child care costs.

“Parents don’t have to fear if they have a 13 year old watching a younger sibling for a couple hours after school that they’ll be in violation of the law.” said Sosnowski.  “So, I think this will definitely help working families across the state.”

But Bumphrey worries the potential dangers aren’t worth the risk.

“There’s so many predators out there, so many hazards for these children.” said Bumphrey.  “I just think it would be a detriment.”

Having gained bipartisan support so far, the bill moves on to the full Illinois house, and Sosnowski hopes the bill will be on the Governor’s desk quickly.

“Based off the unanimous support in committee and bipartisan support, I hope to be sending this to the senate very soon.” said Sosnowski.  “And then it’ll be taken up there and hopefully sent up to the Governor’s office.”

The bill could come up for discussion in the Illinois house as soon as next week.

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