“Do you think a school emergency card is enough to protect your kids if something happens to you during school hours?” asks attorney Steve Worrall to a crowd of parents attending his popular Protect My Kids! seminar last month in Marietta, Georgia.
The majority of the room raises their hands yes. A few parents are undecided. Yet from a legal standpoint, all of them are wrong.
“Contrary to popular belief, a school emergency card will not protect your children from spending time in the hands of social services if something tragic happens to you,” says Worrall. “The emergency card only gives named contacts permission to pick your kid up if they are sick, not take short-term custody of them if one or both parents are killed or incapacitated in an accident.”
For this reason, experts such as Worrall recommend parents create an emergency plan so there is no confusion or legal headaches should tragedy strike. According to Worrall, this plan can be created in three easy steps:
1. Legally name 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 one who will comfort your children in an emergency.
2. Make sure your short-term guardians match those named on the school emergency card.
In addition to listing friends and neighbors who can pick your child up from school if he or she gets sick, it’s equally important to list the full contact information of your short-term guardians for true emergencies. Without this information, your children could be placed temporarily in the custody of social services until the surviving parent or legal guardian can arrive.
3. Make sure the babysitter knows what to do if you don’t return home.
It’s extremely important that parents give their a.m. or p.m. 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 and babysitter emergency plan is so easy–and something that will greatly pay off if a parent is injured or, God forbid, killed during school hours,” Worrall says. “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,” he concludes. Good advice for parents and teachers, alike.
For more information on Marietta family attorney, Steve Worrall, please visit GeorgiaFamilyLaw.com or call 770-425-6060. You can also sign up for an upcoming Protect My Kids! Plan Workshop at protectmykidsplan.com to gain detailed guidance on how to guarantee that your kids are legally protected…no matter what.
Stephen M. Worrall is an experienced family law and wills, trusts, estate planning, probate and elder law attorney in Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia. He concentrates his practice in all areas of family law, including divorce, adoption and prenuptial agreements, and family estate planning, including estate planning, including wills, trusts, guardians for minor children and incapacitated adults, probate and trust administration. He also helps families plan to protect their assets and their children in the event of their death or incapacity, and to transfer their whole wealth: their financial, intellectual, and spiritual assets, to their loved ones.