By law, a daycare may not release your child to someone who is not a parent or legal guardian unless the parent or guardian has given them prior written authorization to do so. If you and your child’s other parent are in an accident and no one else is authorized to pick up your child, the daycare may not release your child to another adult – even a grandparent.

In a situation where no authorized person is available to pick your child up, the daycare may be required to contact the police or child protective services to take custody of your child. To prevent this from ever happening to your child, parents are advised to make sure a friend or family member is authorized to pick up your child in the event of an emergency.

You should talk to your child’s school or daycare center about the procedures they have to follow in case of an emergency in which neither parent is available. The daycare facility will more or less require written authorization by the parent and in some cases a photograph of the other authorized person.

Making sure a friend or family member is authorized to pick up a child from school, daycare, and extracurricular activity should be part of an overall plan for your family in the event of your death or incapacity. As part of that plan, it is also imperative that certain legal documents be in place to protect your family, including a Standby Guardianship Designation and a Power of Attorney, and a Healthcare Proxy.

A Standby Guardianship Designation is used to authorize a trusted person to temporarily take legal custody of your children in the event of your incapacity. Note that this ensures that someone is always legally authorized to care for your child, enroll them in school, and authorize medical care.

In the absence of a Standby Guardianship Designation, a relative or friend is expected to petition the court for guardianship while you’re incapacitated, which can take several months. In some states, a temporary guardian is appointed through a Power of Attorney instead of a Standby Guardianship Designation.

A Power of Attorney, in the same vein, authorizes a trusted person to manage your family’s finances in the event that you aren’t able to do so yourself. If you’re unconscious, who will ensure that your mortgage or rent is paid, that your child’s nanny, school, or daycare bills are taken care of, and that your health insurance continues! Note that having a Power of Attorney in place ensures that critical family expenses continue to be paid.

Safety Procedures for Picking Up Your Kid From Daycare

Most daycares have established safety procedures for picking up kids that parents can request. Informational packets may include maps of the parking lot and designated pick up areas – which may vary based on level or dismissal time – as well as safety tips, emergency procedures, and other helpful hints. Nonetheless, safety procedures for parents to take include;

  1. Leaving Early

If a kid will be leaving daycare early, the parent will be expected to sign them out at the daycares’ main office. Note that this ensures that the individual picking up the kid has the proper authorization to do so and helps prevent strangers from checking up children.

Most public and private daycares will have authorization forms on file in the office, and parents should regularly update these forms to ensure that everyone who may need to pick up the child – a daycare provider, neighbor, or other relatives, for example – will be allowed to do so.

  1. Driving

A good number of parents pick up kids by driving or carpooling, and these safety tips can help make navigating the often crowded, confusing daycare parking lots easier and safer.

  • Avoid driving in the bus lane or bus zone.
  • Stay in designated pick up areas as directed by daycare personnel. Do not arrange to pick kids up on side streets, staff parking lots, or other areas that may not be as safe.
  • Yield to pedestrians, crossing guards, and buses, and be aware that children who are walking home may not look both ways before venturing across a parking lot or pick up lane.
  • Ensure to drive the proper direction through parking lots and nearby streets – some daycares may convert streets to one-way traffic when kids are leaving.
  • Obey all local speed limits in daycare zones. This is often no more than 15 to 20 miles per hour on nearby roads and 5 miles per hour in parking lots and pick up zones.
  • Always pick kids up at the nearest curb and do not encourage them to cross parking lots to reach the car.
  • When waiting for kids to be released, pull all the way forward on the curb to allow other cars ample room and minimize driving around.
  • Leverage turn signals when entering and leaving the pickup areas and check blind spots carefully.
  • Immediately kids are in the car, make sure their seatbelts are fastened. Injuries can occur even from slow-moving crashes and fender benders, particularly for young children.
  • Do not delay once kids have been picked up – other parents are eager to pick up their children and moving quickly and efficiently can help keep the traffic flow more consistent.
  1. While Walking

Parents who pick up their kids to walk home should also follow established safety procedures to ensure that no accidents occur.

  • Designate a meeting place near the daycares’ entrance but away from traffic areas.
  • Hold young kids’ hands while crossing streets or while near pick up areas with moving traffic.
  • Follow responsible pedestrian behavior, including using crosswalks, obeying crossing guards’ instructions, and checking carefully before crossing streets.


As a parent, it is imperative you talk to any daycare or organizations in whose care your child is entrusted, and make sure your family has an emergency plan in place in the event that you are not able to pick up your child. Having an emergency plan also includes having a Standby Guardianship Designation and a Power of Attorney to make sure a trusted person is always authorized to care for your child and that important family expenses continue to be paid.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who Can Pick Up Child From School?

By law, a day care may not release a child to  [Done]someone who is not a parent or legal guardian unless the parent or guardian have given them prior written authorization to do so. If you and your child’s other parent are in an accident and no one else is authorized to pick up your child, the day care will not release your child to another adult – even a grandparent.

  1. Up To What Age Can You Keep Your Child In The Daycare?

The maximum age up to which most day care centres take children is six or seven. That’s when the child starts going to primary school and is usually enrolled in other activity classes. Some of them, however, continue to stay beyond that age. At that point after-care programs become very good options for parents.

  1. What Happens If You Leave A Child At School?

It depends on the head of the school, teachers and the laws and regulations of your state. However, if your child is old enough to leave the school and walk home alone, nothing happens. But if you did not return to pick up your preschooler or kindergartener, the school would go through their process. This usually involves calling every contact number you have listed. (Work, home, cell)

If the school did not reach you, they would begin calling all the people on your emergency pick up list. If no contact is made, they will then start calling all emergency contacts on file for that student. A voice message and/or email may be sent to all contacts as well.

If no contact has successfully been made and the child has not been picked up within an hour and a half from the close of school, they then contact the local police Department and the local (CPS) Child protective services to file an abandoned child report.

  1. Can A Father Pick Up A Child From Child Care Even If His Name Is Not On The Emergency Form?

Yes, if they were married when the child was born, or if the father established paternity or otherwise established a formal legal relationship to the child (e.g. adoption), then they share custody, and either parent can pick up the child.

  1. Can An Ex Stop Me From Picking My Child Up From School?

Your ex cannot legally stop you from having access to your child unless continued access will be to the detriment of your child’s welfare.

  1. What Happens When You Forget To Pick Up Your Kid From School?

The school will try to reach you. If they cannot reach you or the emergency contacts after a certain amount of time, then protective services are called. Then it becomes a matter of abandonment.

  1. What Do You Do When Parents Are Late to Pick up Their Child?

First, make sure your written contract states the specific times when parents are expected to drop off and pick up their children. The pick-up time can be different from one family to the next. Second, state the consequence if a parent doesn’t pick up her child on time. Most providers charge a late fee. Here are some examples:

  • Parents who notify provider at least 2 hours before pick-up time that they will be late will not be charged a late fee.
  • Parents who are late picking up their children once or twice in a month will not be charged a late fee. Parents will pay a late fee if they are late more often than this.
  • Parents are given a fifteen minute grace period and then are charged $.50/$1.00 per minute. (You could charge $.50 or $1 a minute for early drop offs.)
  1. What Happens If You Drop Your Child Off At Daycare And Never Come Back?

When you don’t pick up your child at the designated time, the day care will try to contact you or the emergency contacts on your list. If no one comes to pick up the child, the day care calls CPS and if CPS can’t locate an appropriate relative to care for the child, the child goes into the foster care system.

Have it in mind that CPS will try to find the parents and work with them to reunify the family but if the parents don’t want to do what it takes to get their child back, then the parent’s rights will be terminated so the child can be placed for adoption.

  1. Do Parents Abuse Drop-off Pickup Policy?

Yes, this happens quite a lot.  Parents tend to take their time to pick up their children disregarding their contracted times. Have it in mind that parents will dismiss contracted times if you let them.