More than 59,000 children in Kentucky are being raised by grandparents and other relatives – known as kinship care. The majority of these kinship family arrangements are informal, and oftentimes relatives do not have legal custody or guardianship of the children. This can make it difficult when it comes time for kinship caregivers to enroll children in school or access educational services or health care for them. Often, relatives step in to help stabilize the situation for children on a temporary basis, with the understanding that the parents will resume care once they are able. Because of the temporary nature of this care, many do not seek legal custody or guardianship of children in their care.
Fortunately, this past April, Kentucky’s General Assembly passed SB 176 – a kinship caregiver authorization law. This new law allows relative caregivers to complete a form, called an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, stating that they are the primary caregiver of the child. By presenting the form, they can authorize health care treatment, educational services, and school enrollment for children in their care. Prior to SB 176, caregivers had to have the biological parents or legal custodians sign a Power of Attorney form to get the authority they needed. However, we know this can be a substantial barrier for families when the parents are unavailable or hard to locate. To remove this barrier, SB 176 says that if caregivers are unable to locate the parent(s), they can simply describe their reasonable efforts to locate them in the affidavit rather than requiring a signature.
Since passage of SB 176, Kentucky Youth Advocates has been working with partners from AppalRed and the Kinship Families Coalition of Kentucky to create a model affidavit for kinship caregivers, and it is now available for dissemination and use. The Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit serves as a template for caregivers without legal custody to get the authorization needed to address the educational and/or medical needs of the children they are caring for. The form was created in order to help relative caregivers easily create an affidavit on their own, without having to consult an attorney.
Read this story of a grandmother in Fayette County to understand how the model affidavit will help Kentucky children in kinship care.
If you have questions about the form please contact Shannon Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org.