Experts offer safety tips for parents who will leave students home alone this Fall

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Most students in the area will have to take part in some form of remote learning this fall, but working families may be forced to leave their kids home alone.

For working parents planning to leave their school-aged children at home, Swedishamerican’s Safe Kids coordinator, Jeff Hoster, said in the State of Illinois, the minimum age to leave a child home alone is 14-years-old.

Holster said the first question parents should ask is if their children even want to be home alone.

After that, Hoster recommends testing them with a checklist of rules or chores, or parents can also leave home for short periods of time and come back to check on them.

Hoster also said it is important to have a family emergency plan in place.

“[You should work out] what situations could they come across, so they know what to do when someone comes to the door calling the house. Do they know what to say? If they smell smoke or gas, do they know who to call? If there’s a fire in the house do they know where to go and how to get the children out, those types of things?” he said.

Tiffani Williams is a mother of three kids, all under the age of 7, who are enrolled at Welsh Elementary.

Since Williams’ eldest daughter, Sophie, is immunocompromised, the family has to choose e-learning. And since she works, Williams says she won’t be home in the evenings.

“We’re kind of running out of options, because you can put them in daycare and she’s not getting the schooling she needs, and she’s still being exposed to the same germs and issues we would have if she went to school,” she said.

Like many parents, Williams found herself with a difficult decision: stay home or quit her new job.

Ultimately, she decided to stay home with her family.

“It’s emotionally draining, as much as physically draining,” she said. “I’m still at that loss of income, so that’s stressful in and out itself, but at least I know she’s safe and I can take care of her and get her on a schedule. But one of us, I have to work. I have to make money. I have three kids to support, and a whole house.”

SwedishAmerican offers a SafeSitter class for children.

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