As local kids prepare to head back to school, parents will soon be inundated with paperwork, including the task of filling out routine school emergency cards that request the full names and contact information of other adults who can be reached if the parent is unavailable.
Yet this year, our Pennsylvania will and trust lawyers are encouraging parents to take a more serious look at the form, as it is not actually designed to protect your child in a true emergency.
Contrary to popular belief, the emergency card only gives named contacts permission to pick your kid up if they are sick, not to take short-term custody of them if one or both parents are killed or incapacitated in an accident.
For this reason, we recommend that parents create also create a legal emergency plan prior to going back to school so there is no confusion or headaches should a tragedy strike. This plan can be created in three easy steps:
1. Legally named short-term guardians for your kids- Short-term guardians are the people who have legal permission to care for your child until the surviving parent or long-term guardian can arrive. This should ultimately be someone who lives close by and who will comfort your children in an emergency. You can document your choices in your will or in a Children’s Protection Plan with the help of your lawyer.
2. Make sure your short-term guardians match those named on the school emergency card- List the full contact information of your short-term guardians for true emergencies so the authorities know how to get in contact if they need to.
3. Make sure the babysitter knows what to do if you don’t return home- It’s extremely important that parents give their AM or PM babysitters detailed instructions on what to do and who to call if they don’t return home. In most cases, a babysitter will panic and turn to the police for help, again opening the door for social services to temporarily take custody of your kids until a long-term care provider can arrive.
Creating a back-to-school emergency plan is easy--- and something that will greatly pay off if a parent is injured or killed during school hours. The first few hours after an emergency are the most painful for a child, so it’s important for parents to make sure their kids spend that time with people they love and trust, rather than in the arms of the state.
If you have any questions or need help getting started with a plan, please contact our law firm at 215-473-4353 or you may click the link below to book a free discovery call to talk to an attorney: