Incarcerated parents need the option of making responsible and appropriate caregiving arrangements for the care of their own minor child(ren) when they are not available. There is currently no state law authorizing parents to designate another person with the care of one’s own minor children due to a parent’s need to be temporarily absent. Those arrangements when made are mostly emergent, voluntary, flexible, and temporary situations. These caregiving arrangements once entered into should be respected as if the parent was caring for the child. To meet this need, incarcerated parents currently rely upon legal instruments that are not explicitly endorsed or protected by the law. Some incarcerated parents try to access the permanent legal arrangements offered by our legal framework, but they find these methods are costly or not effective at meeting their family’s needs on an emergent and temporary basis.
Incarcerated parents use of power of attorney instruments to confer to another person their parental caregiving rights and obligations for their minor children during their temporary absence should be protected by the UPAA. The Washington Defender Association’s Incarcerated Parents Project(WDA-IPP) proposes that Washington‘s Uniform Power of Attorney Act (“UPAA”) be amended to provide for the use of power of attorney instruments to effectuate temporary child custody, care, and child-rearing arrangements for minor children with incarcerated parents (and other parents who are temporarily absent from their children).
Below are two publications that describe this policy challenge and a recommended legislative solution:
National Survey of Power of Attorney Statutes – Cunningham (2018)- Policy Report
This report reviews statutes authorizing the use of a power of attorney instrument to confer rights and obligations of caring for minor children to another whenever the parent chooses due to the parent’s need to be absent.
Arranging for Temporary Care of Minor Children during Parental Incarceration – Cunningham (2018)- Policy Report
This policy report proposes amendments to state law allowing parents to use of power of attorney instruments to effectuate temporary child custody, care, and child-rearing arrangements for minor children with incarcerated parents (and other parents who are temporarily absent from their children).