Guardianship of Minors – July 2010 Article published in the Yuma Sun & Bajo El Sol
Swimming pools, barbeques, sun screen and long hot days are all signs of summertime in Arizona! One thing that is commonly overlooked and yet is one of the most important, is that this is the time to be certain paperwork is in order to register children for school.
Did you know that many of the children who are heading back to the classroom are living with non-parental relatives or caregivers? In Yuma County, as reported by Kids Count in 2008, that 32% of grandchildren live with their grandparents. It is of critical importance that any ‘non-parental’ person or persons who are caring for minor children have legal guardianship established, in order to obtain medical treatment, enroll them in school and obtain government benefits which will ensure a quality of life that all children deserve. This includes grandparents caring for their own grandchildren with the permission of the childrens’ parents.
In Arizona, many grandparents provide in-home, day to day care for their grandchildren, and basically act as the primary caregivers, often because neither parent of the child/ren is willing to provide care for the child, or able to provide care, due in some cases to mental illness, drug abuse or incarceration.
The number of grandparents and other non –parental relatives who are or who are becoming primary caregivers for children is increasing. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), directed that the 2000 United States Census ask questions regarding grandparental care giving. Congress was interested in learning about grandparents acting as primary caregivers and whether these relationships were permanent or temporary.
Community Legal Services (‘CLS’) provides instruction, resources and legal information for those who wish to undertake legal action to establish legal guardianship of a minor child or children. CLS works with other non-profit agencies and private attorneys who volunteer their time to ensure that caregivers understand their legal rights and responsibilities, and have the knowledge and skills needed to access the courts to obtain legal guardianships of minor children in their care.
If you are caring for a minor and don’t have legal guardianship, please be aware of the documents needed and allow the time to prepare and file them. Many of the required forms take time to be reviewed and processed.
CLS provides minor guardianship packets of required forms at no charge to the public. Please stop by our office in person to pick up a packet.
If you need any additional legal help, please be aware that CLS provides legal services to low income residents of Yuma County. Please contact our office to determine eligibility to receive services.
Community Legal Services is a non-profit Arizona law firm providing high-quality civil legal aid to low-income Yuma. Please visit www.clsaz.org for more information and contact information, location and hours of operation. This article was submitted by Kay Marion Macuil, Managing Attorney, Yuma County Office.