Child Protection Planning

Parents of Minor Children May Need a Child Protection Plan

If you’re a mom or dad with one or more children at home under the age of 18 (as I am), you may need a Child Protection Plan. Without such a plan, if you are killed or incapacitated in an accident, the police will typically show up at your house to notify the family. If the police find your kids home alone, or with a babysitter, they will have no choice but to call in Child Protective Services and have your kids removed from your home until the system can figure out what to do, and that may take weeks or even months.

Doesn’t a Will Naming Guardians Suffice?

Having a Last Will and Testament to name permanent, long-term guardians for your minor children is vitally important, but it is is not sufficient to protect your children in these situations. First of all, the police typically won’t know where to find your Will, so your kids will often wind up in the hands of strangers until everyone can figure out what to do. Even if the police did somehow obtain a copy of your Will, a Will doesn’t actually appoint guardians. A Will only nominates guardians for your children after your death; a Court must make the actual legal appointment. And a Will only works if you die, not if you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated.

A Will doesn’t even become effective until it is admitted to probate (which often occurs weeks or months after death), and then it can take additional weeks or months for the Court to officially appoint your guardians. In the meantime, who is going to take care of your children? Who is going to be authorized to obtain medical treatment if a child requires it? Unfortunately, it is typically the Child Protective Services system, through its network of Foster Care volunteers.

A Child Protection Plan addresses who is authorized to take charge of your children immediately and comfort them in those terrible first hours, days and weeks after your death or incapacity, so that you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your children will be taken care of by trusted and loving family or friends who you decide on, not random strangers that the overworked government system foists upon your children.

What is a Child Protection Plan?

A Child Protection Plan is a set of legal documents that includes an Appointment of Temporary Guardian for someone you choose to take immediate custody of your children, a Parental Consent for Medical Treatment form, and a Medical Information form containing information on your child’s medical allergies and conditions, pediatrician information, health insurance information, immunization record, and medication list. Your Child Protection Plan will also include a special wallet card. The wallet card will be registered with a national database that contains all of the above information on file for each child.

If you are in an accident, your Child Protection Plan will help ensure that your children are never turned over to Child Protective Services because the police don’t have clear instructions from you and, if the unthinkable happens, your Child Protection Plan will help ensure that your children are not turned over to Foster Care strangers chosen by a overburden social services system that doesn’t care about your wishes or who you would prefer to take custody of your children.

If you’re a mom or dad with one or more children at home under the age of 18, a Child Protection Plan may be the solution for your family. Without such a plan, if you are killed or incapacitated in an accident, the police will typically show up at your house to notify the family. If the police find your kids home alone, or with a babysitter, they will have no choice but to call in Child Protective Services and have your kids removed from your home until the system can figure out what to do, and that may take weeks or even months.

What if something happens to you or you and your spouse? What will happen to your child(ren)? If the surviving parent is unavailable or something happens to you both, your child will most likely be placed into the “system” until a judge (who doesn’t know you or your wishes!) can decide where they should go.

That is NOT a position you want to put your kids in—especially during a time of grief! Fortunately, there are three easy steps you can take to make sure your kids stay protected if something tragic happens. They are:

  1. Name short and long-term guardians for your minor children. Many parents have long-term guardians named in their will, but they have not legally documented who can care for their child in the short-term if the main guardian is out of town or is not immediately available to get your kids.
  2. Tell your child’s school, babysitter or daycare provider about the plans you have in place. Provide them with a copy of your guardian nominations and let them know how they can get in touch with your guardians in the event of an emergency. This will prevent social services from getting involved if the unthinkable happens.
  3. Make sure the contacts on your school emergency card match the guardians you have legally named to care for your kids.

A Child Protection Plan is a set of legal documents that includes an Appointment of Temporary Guardian for someone you choose to take immediate custody of your children, a Parental Consent for Medical Treatment form, and a Medical Information form containing information on your child’s medical allergies and conditions, pediatrician information, health insurance information, immunization record, and medication list.

If you are in an accident, your Child Protection Plan will help ensure that your children are never turned over to Child Protective Services because the police don’t have clear instructions from you and, if the unthinkable happens, your Child Protection Plan will help ensure that your children are not turned over to Foster Care strangers chosen by a overburden social services system that doesn’t care about your wishes or who you would prefer to take custody of your children.

By planning in advance with a Child Protection Plan, you’ll rest easy knowing your child will always be cared for by the people YOU want if tragedy strikes.

At the Fairfax and Fredericksburg Elder Law Firms of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we are specially equipped to meet the unique planning needs of families with minor children, to make sure their kids are totally protected.  We are attuned to the concerns of parents and counsel our clients on issues such as choosing a guardian, how to best provide for long-term expenses, and those related to blended families.  We are also one of a limited number of firms that offer the Children Protection Plan, which provides for the maximum protection of minor children.