Give your child's caregiver permission to make education and health care decisions

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Community Legal Aid

Sometimes, a parent may not be available to make decisions for their child. For example, a parent may be out of the country for a month without their child. When that happens, a parent may give someone permission to make medical and educational decisions for the child while the parent cannot. This process creates a caregiver.

Are you looking to prepare for the care of your children in the event of an emergency? See Planning for a family emergency.

What is a caregiver?

Under the law, a caregiver is an adult with whom a child lives who a parent or legal guardian allows to make medical and educational decisions for a child.

Agreeing to make someone a caregiver doesn't take away any of your rights to make decisions for your child. The authorization lets you and the caregiver share decision-making power.

However, making someone a caregiver allows them to make educational and medical decisions without talking to you first. The caregiver cannot make a decision for the child that they know you do not agree with.

Who can become a caregiver?

A caregiver must be an adult of at least 18 years old who is living with the child. They do not have to be related to you or your child.

If my children are living with someone temporarily, such as my parent or grandparent, do they have to become their legal guardian?

No. A legal guardian can be appointed by the court in a separate process. You can find more information about the guardianship process here.

What is the difference between a caregiver and a legal guardian?

A caregiver and guardian have very different rights and responsibilities. See Differences Between Caregivers and Guardians.

Do I need to go to court to authorize someone to be a caregiver for my child?

No, no one has to go to or file anything with the court.

Does the caregiver get custody of my child?

No, a caregiver is given the right to make medical and educational decisions for the child, but they do not have any custodial rights.

Will I still be able to participate in medical and educational decisions for my child if I authorize someone to be their caregiver?

Yes, you still have a right to make decisions for your child after authorizing someone to be their caregiver. You and the caregiver will share the power to make medical and educational decisions.

What happens if I disagree with the caregiver on a medical or educational decision for my child?

In the event of a disagreement, the parent makes the final decision.

How do I authorize a caregiver to make medical and educational decisions for my child?

If you want your child’s caregiver to be able to give permission for medical and educational services for your child, you have to fill out and sign a Caregiver education and health care authorization affidavit. The form is also called a "Caregiver Authorization Affidavit". The form says you are sharing this decision-making power with the caregiver. 

In order to authorize a caregiver, you would have to agree that the following statements are true:

  1. There are no active court orders that would stop you from personally using the rights and responsibilities that you want the caregiver to have.
  2. You are not using this form to
    1. Get around any state or federal law,
    2. Get your child attendance at a particular school, or
    3. Give back rights to a caregiver whose rights have been terminated by the court.
  3. You are giving your permission freely and knowingly to provide for your children and not as a result of pressure, threats, or payments by any person or agency.
  4. You understand that to change or remove this authorization, you need to provide the amended form or revocation to all the providers that you and the caregiver originally gave the form to.

When you are ready to sign, you will need two witnesses and a notary to complete the parent section. Then, the caregiver must then sign an acknowledgement on the second page. You and the caregiver should both keep a copy of the signed Caregiver Authorization Affidavit.

The caregiver needs to give a copy of the form to the child’s school, doctor,  dentist, and other providers. The caregiver should keep a list of everyone they gave the form to, in case they have to let them know about changes.

The Massachusetts Probate Court has instructions about how to fill out the Caregiver Authorization Affidavit.

Can I specify which decisions I do not want the caregiver to make?

Yes. There is a specific spot on the first page of the Caregiver Authorization Affidavit where you can list what specific actions the caregiver cannot take. For example, you could specify that the caregiver does not have the authority to make decisions related to the mental health treatment of your child.

How long does the caregiver have decision-making power?

The caregiver can be authorized for up to two years at a time, but you may choose a shorter period. You may also reauthorize a caregiver after the time you initially authorized them for has ended.

If I change my mind, can I remove the caregiver authorization?

Yes, you can revoke the caregiver’s right to make decisions at any time. You will need to write a letter to the caregiver, saying that the caregiver no longer has permission to make these decisions. The letter should be signed by you and include the date. You and the caregiver should each give a copy of this letter to the child’s school, doctor, dentist, and any other providers that initially received the caregiver authorization form.


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