Planning on sending your kids to camp this summer, or having a care-share schedule? Looking to split transportation costs with other families, or searching for a teenage babysitter for those summer nights? When planning your summer child care decisions, there are seven common legal issues to consider:
1. Medical Care Decisions. Want to make sure your babysitter or extended family member can authorize medical care for your children for that nasty bee sting or twisted ankle at camp? Then have them sign a child care authorization. This form can provide coverage for others to make decisions about your child’s medical care when the kids are out and about this summer.
Also, if your child takes any medication, it’s a good idea to ask for the medication policies at camps or other extracurricular programs. These policies can give you a heads up on whether you need to include the child’s prescription, or if they have set times of day when medication is administered.
2. Car Insurance. If you plan on sharing transportation this summer or allowing your babysitter to use your car, make sure that you have updated your insurance policy to cover additional drivers. If your babysitter is using their own car to drive your kids around, think about what car insurance you want them to have.
It may be a good idea to talk to other parents about their policies on insurance if you are going to share transportation this summer.
3. Babysitter Policies and Contracts. If you use high school or college students for babysitting this summer, it may be a good idea to write out a short list of do’s and don’ts for your house. This simple do’s and don’ts list could be less detailed than a full nanny contract is, but it should at least have clear guidance on pay rate, bedtimes, food, screen time, expectations on when calling you is appropriate, emergency contact numbers, and policies for having visitors.
Just like employees get handbooks when they show up on their first day of work, it’s a good idea to have your babysitter informed about your expectations, even when it’s a one time thing or just for the summer.
4. Nanny Tax. The IRS maintains that if you pay a caregiver more than $1,900 per year, you have to pay employee taxes. Summer hours and pay can add up and if you think your part-time babysitter is going to earn more than $1,900 this summer, you should talk to a tax professional to understand your obligations.
5. Will or Trust. If you plan on taking a vacation away from home this summer, it’s a good idea to spend some time to create or update your will.
When I was growing up, my family always left a detailed list of instructions on the kitchen table when we left for vacation, in case something happened. This list was to be used in the event of an emergency to deal with issues like:
- who would take care of the dog
- common logistical issues with the house
- how to get in touch with other key friends and familyWorking through what you want to happen in the event of an emergency can be overwhelming, but my family found that it brought us closer. If you have young kids, it may be especially important to minimize the potential chaos in the event of an emergency.
6. Emergency Contact List. Make sure your child has an emergency contact list in their backpack this summer with all your important information. It’s a good idea to put both an email and a phone number to make sure you are easily reachable in the event of an emergency.
7. Education Programs. Is your child doing summer tutoring or completing a summer honors program? Make sure you have spoken with the program to determine whether the activity meets your child’s Individual Education Program (IEP). It’s a good idea to keep track of all the program information for future conversations with your child’s teachers. Summer programs often serve as a good starting place for education discussions in the fall.
These are just some of the important legal issues to consider when planning your summer! Just remember to have fun on those long summer nights.