DENVER, CO – Bipartisan legislation to foster youth independence in Colorado passed the House today on Third and Final Reading by a unanimous vote. HB22-1090, sponsored by Representatives Mary Young and Kim Ransom, would tighten the definition of child neglect giving kids reasonable independence to walk to school, ride their bikes and play in their neighborhood without adult supervision.
“We’re working diligently to foster everyday independence for Colorado’s youth and this bill is a wonderful step in the right direction,” said Rep. Mary Young D-Greeley. “This bill makes it clear that there is no need to get the authorities involved when kids are out and about in their neighborhood, walking to school or playing on the playground. When youth are given independence they grow, learn and thrive and we’re pleased to pass legislation that empowers their right to independence.”
HB22-1090 passed out of the House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services unanimously and would tighten Colorado’s broad definition of neglect to exclude everyday activities deemed as reasonable independence that formerly would be constructed as neglect or abuse. This bill also aims to cut back on the amount of unnecessary involvement from child protective services and law enforcement officials.
Colorado’s vague definition of neglect has left some parents worried that allowing their kids to walk to school alone could be misconstrued as neglect or abuse. HB22-1090 would allow parents to make family decisions when their child is “of sufficient maturity, physical condition, and mental abilities to avoid substantial risk of physical harm” to participate in activities without their supervision. Examples of these reasonable independence activities include playing outside, traveling to and from sports practices and staying home alone for a reasonable amount of time.