Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

May 2024Vol. 25, No. 4Updated Publications From Child Welfare Information Gateway

Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children's Bureau, has updated two publications.

Determining the Best Interests of the Child, part of the State Statutes series, provides a review of state laws about factors that must be considered when determining the best interests of a child in custody and care decisions. Generally, the term "best interests" does not have a standard definition. Some states will provide definitions while others will not have a standard definition—but it is generally understood as a legal concept. This publication lists the guiding principles of best interest determinations as well as considerations to take into account when making determinations. Summaries of laws on this topic for all individual states and U.S. territories are available on the State, Territory, and Tribal Resources webpage.

Leaving Your Child Home Alone (also updated and available in Spanish) is a factsheet offering guidance to help parents and caregivers decide whether to leave their child unsupervised at home. It includes information for foster parents about the reasonable and prudent parenting standard and explores several topics parents and caregivers should consider:

  • State laws
  • Age and maturity
  • Circumstances
  • Safety skills
  • Youth babysitting other children
  • Communication

Parents and caregivers will find links to resources, general suggestions, and considerations that they can use to guide their decisions. The factsheet includes information to help prepare children and youth for the experience of being home alone and increase their comfort level.