Professionals working with children may suspect that a child is being left at home alone for periods of time or in circumstances which they think are inappropriate for the child and are placing them at risk.
If you suspect a child is being left home alone and you consider they are too young, or the child is left alone for an amount of time that is not appropriate for their age and development, you might consider talking to the parents of the child about the issue and see whether your suspicions are well-founded.
If that is the case you may share some ideas about possible risks with the parents, both short and long term, the child is likely to suffer from if the parents do not reconsider their role in the upbringing of the child. Ideas about risks and concerns that may worth being shared with the parents can be found in Section 1. The NSPCC has also produced a leaflet about this: Home Alone: Your guide to keeping your child safe. You may want to refer them to this. You may also want to speak to the child if you are of the view that he or she is of sufficient age and understanding but only if it does not put them at any further risk. It would be good practice to first ask the parents whether you can speak to the child but again you should consider whether this might place the child at further risk.
Should you suspect that a child who is being left home may be facing child protection related issues, you should first bring this to the attention of your organisation’s Designated Child Protection Lead and follow your organisation’s own internal procedures. If you have reasonable cause to believe that the child is suffering or is at risk of suffering harm, including neglect, as a result of being left home alone, then you should make a referral to your local Children’s Services, or the police, if it is an emergency.