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Questions raised as to when a child is old enough to watch siblings alone

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – After a Jonesboro mother of four was arrested for leaving her four kids home alone while she worked, questions are now being raised as to what is the appropriate age for kids to be home alone?

"I think I would more look at the maturity level of my child," said mother Lindsey Rose. "I think by 12 I might would run down to the grocery store if I'm only a couple of miles away."

"I just can't imagine right now, my 10-year-old in two years leaving her at home in this day and age but I can certainly understand if there are circumstances that you just have to,"said mother Gina Oliver.

"How long am I gone, how far am I going, what's her maturity level," said mother Lindsey Rose.

"Some mature younger while some mature much older," said Shae Hughes.

Parents are speaking out after hearing of a local mother being charged with child endangerment for leaving her four kids at home alone while she went to work. When asked what age is it okay to leave their child at home, most parents said around 12 or 13-years-old. 

"But even then I would encourage the parent to have the child stay home with someone else their own age or with an older child just to have a buddy there in the case of an emergency," said Rose. 

The Department of Human Services Communication Director Amy Webb said in Arkansas there is no specific age requirement for leaving a child at home.

"You have to look at more than just age, it's really the maturity level of the child and also what kinds of things the parent has done to prepare the child to handle emergency situations," Webb said.

"For my oldest daughter, we started looking around 7th grade when we could trust her and we knew that she was responsible enough so if something happened she knew how to call 911," said mother Heather Scott.

Parents said the child has to be mature enough to do certain tasks before they could even consider leaving them at home.

"She's gotta be able to work the phone, she's gotta be able to know the address, phone numbers. How responsible is she you know," Scott said.

They also consider whether they have neighbors available.

"I would also  like to have neighbors that I can trust and know that they are at home or someone close incase my child had an emergency," said mother Rachel Norton. 

Webb said the last thing DHS wants to do is split up a family.

"Our workers don't simply want to remove children from care, we focus on and believe in the importance of family and we try to keep families together if at all possible," Webb said. 

"We are really working to partner with families and say what can we do to help you and help get your family where it needs to be."

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