Legislative Resources

Playing Outside Should Not Be Against the Law

At Let Grow, we believe kids have the right to some independence, and parents have the right to give it to them—without getting arrested or investigated for neglect. That’s why Let Grow is working to change the neglect laws.

Right now, most states’ neglect laws are incredibly open-ended. They say things like, “Parent must provide proper supervision.” We agree! But people have different ideas of what that entails. One trusts their kids to play outside at age 6, another not till age 12. Let Grow-supported legislation says that neglect is when you put your child in obvious, serious and likely danger — not anytime you simply take your eyes off them. This helps parents who want to “Let Grow” their kids AND parents stretched thin who cannot AFFORD to “helicopter.”

And lately, we’ve been very successful!

In 2021, with our help, Oklahoma and Texas both passed “Reasonable Childhood Independence” bills. They followed the lead of Utah which passed the first such bill in 2018.

And in Spring, 2022, the Colorado Legislature passed the bill UNANIMOUSLY. Gov. Jared Polis then signed it into law — you can watch that happen right here! And here are Gov. Polis
and Bill Maher crowing about it!

We are hopeful that more and more states will follow suit. Right now we are working in Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Virginia, West Virginia — and beyond! Please click the “Get Involved” button to do just that.

Watch the bill debated in the Virginia Senate Judiciary in the video below.  

And below that, we have an FAQ. And if you have a story to share with us, please do! We will keep it private unless you wish otherwise.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JraZtqtIyAw&t=800s
Virginia Senate Judiciary Hearing of “Reasonable Childhood Independence” bill. Chid testimony starts at 13:18.

 

Legislative Resources FAQ

What is Let Grow working to do?

 

In many states, the neglect laws are so broad and open to interpretation that some parents have been investigated simply for letting their kids play outside on their own. We believe most parents know best when their kids are ready to do things. So we are trying to get states to narrow their child neglect laws.

Why narrow the child neglect laws?

 

Vague and broad laws can create a chilling effect. Parents ready to give their kids some responsibilities and independence shouldn’t have to worry that they could be second-guessed by cops or caseworkers with very different ideas of what is reasonably safe. 

Where can I find out about laws in my state?

 

Every state has two sets of neglect laws—criminal and child protective. The police enforce criminal law, while child protective law is the purview of the child protective authorities. Let Grow created a set of maps that show both sets of laws in all 50 states (and DC). See the maps here.

Is there model legislation?

 

In 2018, Utah passed the nation’s first “Free-Range Kids” bill stating it is not neglect to let your kids play outside, walk to school, etc. Let Grow has drafted three different versions of Reasonable Childhood Independence laws like Utah’s. Legislators can choose the one that works best for their state. The model laws are here.

Do you have any additional resources?

 

Yes, we’ve gathered all our legislative resources in one spot. This online toolkit has sample testimony, real-life stories, printable flyers, and additional reading. You can access it all right here.

 

I’d like to get involved in my state

Please send an email to [email protected]. Be sure to tell us which state you live/work in, and some information on your background and how you’d like to help-the more details, the better! Please note that we do not provide legal advice. 

 

Legislative Toolkit

Let Grow’s legislative resources include model laws, sample testimony, posters, and stories, to make a case in your state.