I talked a little about this in my original post, Do You Have A PLAN?
Even if your child isn’t a latchkey kid, your family should have a plan for each child just in case. Your plan should be simple but have several contingencies.
Your two elementary school kids ride the bus home together every day. Your plan is that they let themselves into the house and get a snack for themselves and start their homework while they wait for you. That’s excellent but what if one misses the bus? What if they don’t both have homework? What do they do? They will find something to do if you don’t have a specific plan for them so you really should have one. They might decided to go outside and play or maybe a friend will knock on the door to play. You need rules that are clear like, Do not answer the door EVER if there isn’t a grown-up home. Don’t answer the phone unless it’s Mom or Dad. No going outside. Call Mom or someone else to let them know you got home safely and are in the house. Maybe your plan is for them to go to a neighbor’s house but that neighbor turns out to be gone. Do they carry their own keys or is there one hidden? There are dangers to either one. If your child carries his/her own key, they might tell someone that they have it. Kids tend to brag about this topic to one another. On the other hand, if you leave one outside somewhere, you take the chance of someone else finding it (people tend to hide their keys in fairly easy to find places).
Now of-course, the best thing would be for you to know ahead of time that you won’t be home and make other arrangements like having someone else be there waiting for your child but that just isn’t always possible. You never know when an emergency will happen. If you plan ahead and practice each scenario with your child, it will be okay.