I found this information a bit stunning.
There is no minimum age for leaving your child at home alone in Texas. This just seems really, really weird to me, so I took things a step further and contacted Suzie Shay with the Shay Law Firm, whose primary practice area is family law. Shay confirmed there's no baseline number. She really outlined it pretty clearly here:
"It just boils down to the maturity of the child"
I asked if it would help if there was a minimum age established and she said it would be great to have a baseline to work with, but then we both agreed some of us are never mature enough to be left home alone.
Joking aside, Shay said there are a number of pending cases at any time in Lubbock where Child Protective Services have claimed that a child was not old enough to be left alone. Not having a minimum age muddies the waters.
Shay also sent me this fact:
"Neglectful supervision accounts for more than 50% of all confirmed abuse or neglect in Texas"
Putting all of this into plain language, just because you can leave a kid at home doesn't mean you should and you may end up in court if there's any question about it. If you want to really go in-depth on the topic, Shay also forwarded an excellent link to the Texas Department of Child and Family Services.
Parents have a lot to consider when you decide to leave your kids at home and I don't envy your decision-making process. It's just good to keep in mind that things can go south really quick if your kid is in over their head and it could cost you a lot, including that child.
A real quick rule of thumb is to make sure your child has food and the knowledge and ability to contact someone if they need help.