Colorado Approves Law That Gives Kids ‘Reasonable Independence’

Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis (D) signed the Reasonable Independence for Children Act into law earlier this week. Jared Polis, (D), signed into law the Reasonable Independence for Children Act. He said, “We do not want parents being in trouble simply because their children were on the playground.”

Colorado has now become the fourth state to pass what was originally dubbed the Free-Range Parenting Law when Utah passed it in 2018.  Oklahoma and Texas also followed this trend last year.

However, Colorado was the first state in the blue to adopt the legislation. Let Grow is proud of this achievement. Let Grow was founded out Free-Range Kids and has maintained that children’s independence is a bipartisan issue. Republicans love our efforts to support can-do families and prevent the government from making every day family decisions. Many Democrats also appreciate this.

New law reduces neglect. It makes it clear that children are not considered neglected simply for being allowed to engage in their normal childhood activities like going outside and playing without supervision.

Polis signed the bill with the support of bipartisan sponsors.

Kim Ransom of the Republican state House said that she wanted to allow parents to be parents. Janet Buckner (a Democrat), stood beside Ransom as she sat on one side. They had longed to be able to jointly sponsor a bill, but they finally reached an agreement on this one.

The bill was cosponsored by them in 2020, and they watched as it passed through the House unanimously. COVID-19 then shut down everything just days before it was up for vote in the state Senate.

The original sponsors were joined this time by a bipartisan team: Rep. Mary Young (Democrat) and Sen. Jim Smallwood (Republican). Young, a child psychologist noted that the bill passed the Houses unanimously, perhaps because it was the first time that the name’reasonable” has appeared in a title.

Buckner, who sponsored the bill first time around wrote in an editorial how it felt to be allowed to run an errand alone by her mother for the first-time: the trip to the supermarket to buy baking powder. It was a turning point in my life that gave me the confidence to know that I was strong and smart enough to get that freedom.

Brinley Sheffield felt exactly the same kind of confidence as she did when she was seven and took a run around her neighborhood with permission from her mom.

As she was returning home from the street, a car began following her. She testified that she thought of asking for help at someone’s house but it wasn’t too far away from her home so she decided to run.

The police arrived just minutes after her arrival. She said, “My initial thought was that the police had found the man who had been following me and would put him in jail.” “But then, I realized that the officer had arrived at our home because of me!” Because I was out running alone, the person following me called police.

Although her mother was not charged by the police, this still affected their thinking. Brinley said that she didn’t run down the block for many years following this incident.

Ruchi Kapoor founder of Kapoor Law +Policy, said the new law will provide relief for parents worried by “often confusing and vague neglect laws.” Kapoor was part the Let Grow group of advocates and parents that were convened in partnership by Colorado’s non-profit Elephant Circle.

Of course, actual neglect is still forbidden—say, letting a two-year-old play in the street, or leaving a six-year-old alone for a week. Parents will feel lighter with the new law. Let Grow’s legal counsel, Diane Redleaf stated that helicopter parenting could not be considered the law of all. States are making it clearer that helicopter parenting is not the law of the land.

Next? In Illinois, Nebraska, and South Carolina, there are Reasonable Independence Bills.