A mother has been jailed for leaving her three young children home alone while she and her boyfriend attended a taping of The Jerry Springer Show.

Shannon Cook left her two girls and one boy, all aged under four, alone while she travelled nearly 30 miles (40 kilometres) to Chicago, Illinois, with her boyfriend to be part of the studio audience.

The 25-year-old pleaded guilty to misdemeanour child endangerment last week (ends20JAN06) and received a 30-day jail sentence.

Concerned neighbours called police when the two oldest children knocked on their door after being left alone for five hours.

Cook was arrested when she returned home after midnight.

The children have been placed in foster homes by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.