FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- One of the most important decisions a parent can make is when to leave a child home alone.

Child, Youth and School Services offers the "imAlone Program" for ages 11 to 18 and their parents to help prepare youths for the responsibilities of being home without adult supervision.

The program will be offered Jan. 21 and 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is open to children of active-duty service members, Reservists on active-duty status, Department of Defense personnel, retirees and Fort Meade DoD contractors. Participants must be registered with CYS2.

Parents of children enrolled in imAlone are required to attend a workshop on Jan. 28 from 1 to 2 p.m. The location has yet to be determined.

The imAlone program complements the Maryland state law that requires children be of a certain age before they are left alone or supervised by older children.

Fort Meade's "Policy on Parental Responsibilities and Supervision of Children and Youth" was updated four years ago by the Family Advocacy Program at Army Community Service. It provides guidelines that comply with Maryland state law.

Copies of the policy are distributed by the post's community policing office. CYS2 provides the policy to parents when they register for hourly care.

Parents, however, are responsible for their children whether they are left in the care of a baby-sitter or are left home alone.

The goal of imAlone is to provide families with "tools and guidance as they help their children move toward adulthood and independence," according to the facilitator's program guide.

The program includes information on the stages of youth development and helps youths apply the Six Pillars of Character, which are part of the CHARACTER COUNTS! curriculum created by the Josephson Institute and Center for Youth Ethics in Los Angeles.

Youths also learn how to respond in emergency situations such as what to do if the house lights go out or the hot water tank leaks.

The course also teaches basic first aid and how to safely prepare nutritious snacks. Parents learn how to work with their children to devise an emergency escape plan in case of a fire or other emergency.

Lorian Traver, assistant director of Parent and Outreach Services for CYS2, said imAlone provides the resources to assure parents that "their children will get a better understanding of the responsibilities involved in being alone and [that] they will be able to do it."