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Know the signs: Neglect

Inadequate Supervision

A common and dangerous form of neglect is inadequate supervision. Alaska does not have a law that outlines when it is safe to leave a child unsupervised, however each year a number of Alaskan children die as a result of drownings, fires, firearm incidents, and other incidents related to a failure of caregiver supervision. At the same time, parents and people who care for children should use sound judgement. Depending on their age and their development, a child who is left home alone too long or too often may be in danger, as are children allowed to be unsupervised in the presence of environmental dangers or with potentially risky or unsafe caregivers (leaving a child with a sex offender is a criminal offence). Children who care for younger children too long and too often may be in danger. Circumstances can vary wildly, so a person should use good judgement when reporting. Remember, reporting is not an accusation, but a request to OCS to follow up to find out more.


Abandonment may exist when the parent or guardian fails to make appropriate childcare arrangements with a responsible substitute caregiver during the parent or guardian's extended absence.

Appropriate childcare arrangements satisfy the following criteria:

  • The substitute caregiver is a responsible person.
  • The substitute caregiver knows the parent or guardian’s whereabouts and the anticipated length of the substitute caregiving arrangement.
  • The parent or guardian returns at the designated time — or the substitute caregiver has indicated both willingness and ability to continue caring for the child longer than planned.
  • The parent or guardian and the substitute caregiver make appropriate arrangements for emergency situations.

Abandonment may exist when:

  • The parent or guardian has relinquished caregiving.
  • The parent or guardian has been absent for several days and his or her whereabouts are not known.
  • The substitute caregiver is not being financially supported for the care of the child.
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