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Latch-Key Kids — When Does it Amount to Child Endangerment when Leaving Them Unsupervised?

Question: If my children get home from school before I get home, could I face charges of child endangerment for leaving them unsupervised?

Answer: In general, federal and state laws let parents care for their children as they see fit. Sometimes, however, criminal and child welfare laws allow the state to step in. In Illinois, there are a number of factors, such as the age of the child, which the law takes into consideration to determine if a child has been left alone for an unreasonable amount of time. Parents who leave their children unattended for long periods may face criminal charges and/or the possibility of having the children removed from the home and placed in state care.   For more information about Illinois law, visit  If you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit