Guide To Child Care Authorization

Updated September 4, 2023
7 min read
guide to child care authorization

Are you a busy parent or guardian who sometimes needs to be in two places at once? Do you worry about leaving your child in the care of a third-party service provider? Child care authorization may be the solution you need! 

Essentially, child care authorization allows a non-relative to act on behalf of a minor child when the parent or guardian is not present. This is often necessary when a third-party service provider requires parental permission to administer care, services, or other benefits to the child. Such benefits might include medical treatment, legal documentation, educational services, and government benefits.

When parents or guardians grant child care authorization, they ensure that their children’s needs will be met during the specified times they are unavailable.

Child care authorization is unnecessary if a parent is unavailable for only short periods and can be contacted easily if legal consent is required. However, giving written permission to care for a child when the parent is absent or unavailable for extended periods can ensure that a caregiver will be able to obtain services or provisions that the child may need in an emergency.

Tips for Child Care Authorization

Giving permission for someone else to care for your child is relatively simple. First, choose a responsible caregiver for the child. Then consider whether you must provide that caregiver a child care authorization letter. If authorization is needed, draft a short letter permitting the caregiver to provide consent on behalf of the child when required in the parent’s absence. The following are some essential tips for granting child care authorization.

Assessing the Need for Authorization

A letter granting permission for someone else to make decisions for your child when you are unavailable can be critical in ensuring your child’s well-being. However, before you draft this letter, consider whether you need to grant legal authority over your child to another person. 

If a temporary caregiver cares for the child in a way that does not usually require parental consent, a legal document like a letter granting permission for child care may not be necessary. 

A notarized letter for child care is only required when parental consent is needed, but the parent is unavailable. For example, a parent’s legal consent is not required for a non-relative caregiver to take a child to eat at a restaurant, play in a public park, or ride as a passenger in a car. 

If authorization is warranted, consent only to the specific things you know the child may need while unavailable. Child care authorization letters may be necessary if the child may need care or services that normally require consent or approval from a parent or legal guardian, including:

  • Receiving medical attention;

  • Being released from school or daycare;

  • Obtaining legal documentation;

  • Attending school functions or sponsored events;

  • Acquiring government-issued benefits, services, or identification;

  • Applying for work; or

  • Traveling on an airplane.

Suppose you are still determining whether your consent as a parent will be required for anything the child may need in your absence. In that case, you might consider consulting with an attorney to discuss your concerns for the child while you are unavailable. If child care authorization is appropriate, the attorney may be able to draft a letter to suit your and your child’s needs.

Background Checks

If the temporary caregiver is a relative or someone you know well and trust, a comprehensive background check may not be necessary to ensure your child’s safety. However, before granting child care authorization to a potential caregiver, you may not know personally, conduct a thorough background check of the caregiver. Check the person’s work history and references. Search public records for criminal history.

Some potential non-relative caregivers may include:  

  • A school teacher or administrator who may need to authorize medical treatment for the child;
  • A coach or team parent who may need to register the child for a physical or transport the child to and from games; or 
  • A co-worker or neighbor who agrees to pick up a child from school in the parents’ absence.  

Conducting a background check on someone you don’t know personally can be critical. The information will help to confirm that the person can be trusted to have legal authority over the child. 

No parent wants to grant permission for someone to take temporary custody of their child without being sure that the child will be safe with that person. A thorough check into public records may reveal a red flag that the person may not be appropriate. 

Suppose you have questions about how to conduct a background check. In that case, an attorney may be able to help you conduct a reliable search before you authorize another person to assume temporary or partial legal rights regarding your child.  

Keeping Health (or Other) Records

Part of issuing an effective child care authorization letter is making sure that the person you authorize can make informed decisions on behalf of the child. Discuss the child’s needs with the caregiver and share information that the caregiver might not know about the child. Your child’s caregiver may need to decide whether to:

  • Authorize a medical procedure;

  • Accept treatment;

  • Administer medications; or

  • Provide necessary first aid.

Be sure the caregiver has the information necessary to make these decisions. Provide your child’s caregiver with relevant medical records, charts, treatment plans, and prescription medications. Authorizing another person to make health care decisions for your child only works if the caregiver is accurately informed of the child’s medical needs or conditions.

Similarly, if you authorize the caregiver to make decisions about the child’s educational, employment, or other legal needs, ensure that the person is informed in these areas. Provide relevant records, files, and other information that may help the caregiver make informed decisions and complete related paperwork.

Clear Description

An effective child care authorization letter should include a clear description of the decisions the parents want the caregiver to make on behalf of the child. 

If parental consent is needed for more than one decision, the letter should clearly state each decision the caregiver has permission to make. Express the caregiver’s duties and responsibilities as precisely as possible. Be specific enough for the caregiver to understand what they are not authorized to do. 

However, it is important to be broad enough to allow the caregiver to do what is necessary to care for the child properly.

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Legal Issues

Avoid mistakes and ambiguity in the authorization document. Describe the caregiver’s responsibilities clearly and concisely.

Use simple language that the caregiver and any third party will understand. This will help to avoid future legal issues about what duties the parents or guardians authorized the caregiver to perform in their absence.  

Each state may have its own requirements for how to properly draft a valid child care authorization letter. These may include differences in:

  • What information to include in the letter;

  • Who must sign the authorization; or 

  • Whether the authorization must be notarized.

Mistakes in drafting an authorization letter may result in the letter being ineffective or invalid. A standardized template that includes the appropriate format for your state can help to prevent some legal issues. A template may help parents to include the information their state requires for drafting a valid child care authorization letter. If you are unsure which state template to use for your child care authorization form or have questions about how to format the letter, an attorney familiar with the laws in your state may be able to help. 

Conclusion

Child care authorization is essential when a child needs parental consent and the parent is unavailable. A child may have medical, educational, legal, or social needs while caring for someone other than a parent or guardian.

Therefore, authorizing a caregiver to act in the parent’s place is a simple way to ensure that the child’s needs will be addressed. If you are a parent and may be temporarily unavailable, use a ready-made child care authorization template to give consent to a non-relative caregiver to act on your behalf. Make sure your child is in good hands.

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Article by
Ilona Riznyk
Lawrina

Ilona Riznyk is a Content Specialist at Lawrina. In her role, she creates and manages various types of content across the website, ranging from blog articles to user guides. Ilona's expertise lies in meticulous fact-checking, ensuring all the published content is accurate and reliable.