School enrollment for children and youth who are in the care of non-parent relatives can be tricky. Attorney Becky Wolozin of the Legal Aid Justice Center presented a training in January 2018 to help kinship families and professionals learn about school enrollment and other paperwork. For situations involving informal kinship care, such as when no custody order from a court has been issued, kin caregivers may be able to use two important paperwork options.
First, for school enrollment when parent is not able to care for the child and the child is living with a relative, school divisions generally require a notarized affidavit signed by the parent. The affidavit allows the child to be enrolled in the division where the relative resides. These affidavits look different by school division, so check with the enrollment or registration office first. Specifics about the verification that schools can require can be found in Virginia Code Section 22.1-3.
The other important paperwork approach involves use of a Power of Attorney. Generally, parents can complete a Power of Attorney if they are unable to make decisions on behalf of their children. Typically used in situations that are considered temporary, POAs can give authority to a kin caregiver for a variety of needs including educational and medical decisionmaking. POAs may not impose the same legal obligations to care for a child as a custody order might.
The Legal Aid Justice Center has Introduction to Powers of Attorney and Instructions for Power of Attorney guidance documents that can be helpful to parents and kinship caregivers.
In addition, kinship caregivers who are caring for immigrant students and children of immigrants may benefit from Dream Big, an education law practice advisory from the Legal Aid Justice Center.
For Fairfax County families, new information about the Kinship Family Institute is now available HERE.