By Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Life as a military parent, spouse or guardian can sometimes be hectic with activities, daycare, errands and the many other responsibilities that come along with it, but there are some shortcuts that can never be taken.
The safety and well-being of children on Peterson AFB is the responsibility of everyone. A policy letter signed by Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander, supports the Department of Defense Instruction 6060.3, School-Age Care Program, and applies to all personnel living on Peterson AFB. The policy is in coordination with the Family Advocacy Office and the 21st Security Forces Squadron.
“During summer break and throughout the year, please ensure you are following the local base age matrix to prevent child abuse and neglect,” said Jeremy Roberts, Family Advocacy program assistant. “If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact the Family Advocacy office.”
The guidelines state:
•Children under age six cannot be left alone in the house or in the car for any amount of time.
•Five and six-year-olds can play in the yard with immediate access (visual sight or hearing distance) to adult supervision.
•Children age seven to nine cannot be left home alone, but can walk to and from school unattended. At age six, a child may walk to and from school unattended, however cannot be left home alone.
•Children ages 10 and 11 can be left in a vehicle with the keys removed and handbrake applied.
•Children age 10 cannot be left home alone for more than two hours. However, children age 11 can be left home alone with access to adult assistance via telephone. Children ages 10 to 11 can be left home alone for two hours or less with access to an adult via telephone.
•Youth must be 11-years-old or in the sixth grade to babysit a younger sibling for a maximum of two hours and must have access to a parent or adult.
•Youth 12 and older can babysit a younger child who is not a sibling for greater than two hours, after completing Red Cross babysitting training.
•A 15-year-old (or freshmen in high school) can stay home alone overnight if parents are in the local area and the child can access an adult via telephone.
•Youth 16 and older can stay home alone for five consecutive days if an adult is available to check-in periodically.
Home Alone and Red Cross babysitting training is offered by the youth center. It is recommended (sometimes required) that these courses are taken if a child will babysit for siblings or others and also if the child will be staying home alone in accordance with the child and youth supervision guidelines.
A copy of the guidelines is given to parents, if requested, when they arrive on base during Right Start briefings.
If a call is made to the Base Defense Operations Center about an unattended child, the dispatcher initiates a child abuse and child neglect checklist. Appropriate personnel, including the 21st SFS, fire department and possibly medical response would be called to the scene.
Consequences vary on a case-by-case basis, but at a minimum, a notification of the incident will be made to the member’s command.
For more information, contact the Peterson AFB Family Advocacy Program’s main phone number at 556-8943. The Family Advocacy Program is located in building 725.