Virginia passed their Reasonable Childhood Independence Law in 2023.

Virginia passed their Reasonable Childhood Independence Law in 2023.

Virginia’s legislature passed a strong version of a bill that explicitly protects families that allow their children to engage in independent activities, except if the families are grossly negligent in ignoring an obvious danger to the child. At the same time, Virginia’s criminal law was not changed.

Virginia passed their Reasonable Childhood Independence Law in 2023.

State Laws And Policies

Criminal Law:

Virginia makes the willful failure to provide a child with necessary care a felony. § 18.2-371.1 (Crimes Involving Morals and Decency). This is a vague law that could authorize some prosecutions for allowing a child to be alone if law enforcement authorities exercise their own discretion and treat adult supervision as “necessary.”

Juvenile Court | Child Protective Services | Neglect Law:

The child welfare law defines physical neglect as including lack of supervision. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-371.1; Va. Code Ann. § 63.2-100 except that, through adoption of SB 1367 clearly now spells out, through an amendment to 63.2-100 that “ No child whose parent or other person responsible for his care allows the child to engage in independent activities without adult supervision shall for that reason alone be considered to be an abused or neglected child, provided that (a) such independent activities are appropriate based on the child’s age, maturity, and physical and mental abilities and (b) such lack of supervision does not constitute conduct that is so grossly negligent as to endanger the health or safety of the child. Such independent activities include traveling to or from school or nearby locations by bicycle or on foot, playing outdoors, or remaining at home for a reasonable period of time. 

The requirement that activities are allowed unless ”so grossly negligent” as to endanger a child’s health or safety is a strong protection for children’s independence and the ability of parents to allow independence for their children.


This webpage is not a legal document, and Let Grow does not take responsibility for the content. Be mindful that some localities have rules and guidelines even when the state does not. When in doubt, consult your local authorities to confirm the laws where you live. What’s more, laws change, as do judicial interpretations of them, and this webpage may not be updated immediately.

Nationwide State Laws And Policies

Learn More About Laws And Policies In Other States

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. Select a state below to learn more about their laws, policies and how Let Grow is helping.