Supervision Guidelines for Georgia’s Children

sister-and-brother-1314490Sunny skies, warm temperatures and numerous kid sightings. You guessed it, its summer break in Georgia. During summer break, many children have an extensive amount of free time. Therefore, parents, caregivers, and adults are asked to familiarize themselves with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services’ supervision guidelines to protect children from neglect and injuries.

In Georgia, neglect is defined as:
1. The failure to provide proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law or other care or control necessary for a child’s physical, mental or emotional health or morals; or
2. The failure to provide a child with adequate supervision necessary for such child’s wellbeing; or
3. The abandonment of a child by his or her parent, guardian or legal custodian.

DFCS suggests the following guidelines, outlined below, when determining if a child is old enough and mature enough to be left without adult supervision. Keep in mind that each child is different. In addition to the minimum supervision guidelines, parents, guardians and adults have to consider child-specific factors such as personality, developmental progress, environment and maturity when deciding if a child is ready to accomplish activities with little or no supervision. The guidelines for children in foster care differ from the guidelines for children in parental custody.

Children in Parental Custody
1. Children (8) eight years or younger should not be left alone
2. Children between the ages of (9) nine years and (12) twelve years, based on level of maturity, may be left alone for brief (less than two hours) periods of time
3. Children (13) thirteen years and older, who are at an adequate level of maturity, may be left alone and may perform the role of babysitter, as authorized by the parent, for up to twelve hours.

Children in Foster Care
1. Children in DFCS custody are not permitted to babysit
2. Reliable and competent youth (14) fourteen years and older may be left under their own supervision under certain circumstances that have been previously agreed upon and documented by the Social Services Case Manager, Supervisor, and placement provider.
3. Youth who are 14 and older may be eligible of the Independent Living Program (ILP) and the development of a Graduated Independence Plan (GIP) that will allow the youth to engage in unsupervised age appropriate activities. The GIP must be developed in conjunction with the youth, the youth’s parent/caregiver (when applicable), SSCM, Supervisor, and placement provider.

We encourage you to view the DFCS Lack of Supervision Reference Guide for a complete list of guidelines and exceptions.

If you have specific questions concerning supervision guidelines, please contact the DFCS Customer Contact Center at 1-877-423-4746 (Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.).