Free Range Parenting Act


Modeled on Utah's “Free Range Parenting Law,” this bill protects parents who grant their children activities of independence (i.e., walking to school or playing outside unsupervised), by clarifying that these do not constitute child neglect.  Consistent with the Constitutional protection for familial association, the bill says that neglect requires a blatant disregard of parental responsibilities in a manner likely to cause a serious risk of harm to a child, not efforts by parents to teach independence, and not decisions that reasonable parents make every day.

Free Range Parenting Act

Model Policy:


Legislative findings.

The [governing body] finds that:

(1) Everyone desires the safety of all children;

(2) A child raised under constant adult supervision misses opportunities for growth and, as a result, may end up stunted developmentally 30 and physically;
(3) The alarming rise of obesity and diabetes in childhood is almost certainly linked to the insistence of parents and guardians on driving their children to school and activities instead of allowing their children to walk;
(4) As measured by incidences of mental health difficulties, today’s over-supervised youth experience more difficulties upon reaching adulthood than earlier generations;
(5) Earlier generations learned resilience by walking, bicycling, playing, helping out, and solving problems without constant adult intervention;
(6) Parents and guardians often are in the best position to weigh the risks and make decisions concerning the safety of children under their care, including where their children may go, with whom, and when; and
(7) The excessive investigation and prosecution of parents and guardians who have done nothing more than briefly and safely permit their children to remain unsupervised has introduced unnecessary governmental intrusion into the homes of families and diverted valuable public resources 12 to inconsequential and trivial matters.


Legislative intent.

It is the intent of the [governing body] that this act:
(1)       Protect and promote a parent or guardian’s inherent right to raise his or her children; and
(2)       Protect a parent or guardian’s decision to grant his or her children unsupervised time to engage in activities that include without limitation playing outside, walking to school, bicycling, remaining briefly in a vehicle, and remaining at home.


  1. Neglectful supervision means placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child as a result of a blatant disregard of parent or caretaker responsibilities
  2. “Blatant disregard” means a situation where the real, significant, and imminent risk of harm would be so obvious to a reasonable parent or caretaker that it is unlikely that a reasonable parent or caretaker would have exposed the child to the danger without exercising precautionary measures to protect the child from harm.
  3. Neglectful supervision does not include permitting a child, who is of sufficient maturity, physical condition, and mental abilities to avoid substantial risk of physical harm, to engage in independent activities, including:

(1)       traveling to and from school, including by walking, running, or bicycling;

(2)       traveling to and from nearby commercial or recreational facilities;

(3)       engaging in outdoor play;

(4)       remaining at home unattended if the parent or caregiver:

(a)       returns home on the same day on which the parent or caregiver gives the child permission to remain at home;

(b)       makes provisions for the child to be able to contact the parent or caregiver on the same day on which the parent or caregiver gives the child permission to remain at home; and

(c)        makes provisions for any reasonably foreseeable emergencies that may arise on the same day on which the parent or caregiver gives the child permission to remain at home; or

(5)       remaining for less than fifteen (15) minutes in a vehicle if the temperature inside the vehicle is not or will not become dangerously hot or cold;

(6)       engaging in a similar independent activity