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Who is Authorized to Pick Up a Child from Daycare?

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.