My wife and I went to check out an art studio (NJ, USA) for children to see if we can send our 4-year old son there to learn some drawings.

It came to my attention that there were a bunch of 5,6-year-old boys and girls sitting in the studio drawing pictures but their parents (at least not all) weren't there in the waiting room.

While there was a teacher in the room looking after the children, I am not sure: Is it legal to leave children of that age alone without parents' being nearby? What if a child needs a bathroom break?

After all this is not a daycare and I don't think teachers there have license that entitles them to look after children in the parents' absence.

  • 1
    If it were illegal for children to be outside of their parents' custody, there would be no such thing as day care or school. I don't know about you but I was going to the bathroom without help from my teachers when I was 5.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 20:28
  • and I don't think teachers there have license that entitles them to look after children in the parents' absence In loco parentis("in the place of the fathers"): First, it allows institutions such as colleges and schools to act in the best interests of the students as they see fit [...]
    – SJuan76
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 20:42
  • Hi, and welcome to law.SE! I slightly edited your question, to make it clearer and improve the tags. Feel free to re-edit if I got anything wrong.
    – sleske
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 9:03

1 Answer 1


Any parent may leave a child in the care of another responsible person. There is no special license required. The parent may use sound judgement in selecting the caretaker. Nor does a caretaker even have to be an adult -- teens are often used as baby sitters.

If a reasonable parent would have known that a particular person was not a safe caretaker, then selecting that person might be negligence or child endangerment.

Nor is there any legal requirement in most US states that a child be under anyone's direct supervision at all times. See "Free range parenting". Again, if in particular circumstances a reasonable parent should know that supervision is needed, failure to provide it might be child neglect or endangerment. Some US states set minimum ages for children to be unsupervised. NJ is not one, to the best of my understanding.

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