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Consent to Health Care: A Kinship Caregiver’s Guide

If you are taking care of a relative's child, read this to find out how you can get health care for that child. #5940EN

Please Note:

  • Read this only if you live in the state of Washington.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

A kinship caregiver is a relative of a child who is not the child's parent, but who is taking care of the child. Some examples are:

  • Grandparents
  • Aunts or uncles
  • Adult siblings
  • Other adult relatives

Some kinship caregivers have a court order that gives them guardianship or custody, and with that, the right to agree (consent) to health care for the child. Others have power of attorney, given to them by the parents. Read Power of Attorney (POA) for Parents to learn more.

Many kinship caregivers do not have anything in writing. If this is true for you, you may have problems when you try to get health care for the child.

Yes, under state law at RCW 7.70.065, but only if one of these is true:

  • You have a signed authorization from the child's parent to make health care decisions for the child

Or

  • You have signed and dated a declaration that you are an adult relative responsible for the child's health care.  

It is a written statement you sign saying the information in the statement is true. You date and sign a declaration "under the penalty of perjury under the laws of the state of Washington." Signing a declaration that has false statements is a felony. 

* We have an example below of a declaration you can use if you are a family member.

It is only good for six months from the date you signed it. 

You should fill out another declaration.

No. It only lets you consent to health care for the child. It has no effect on legal custody, or the parents' legal rights. Read Non-Parent Custody is Changing to Minor Guardianshipto learn more.

You can consent to any health care to diagnose, treat, or maintain the child's physical or mental condition. This includes dental care.

Yes. The law allows the provider to do this. If the provider asks you for additional proof that you are responsible for the child's health care, here is a list of some things you could give the provider. These are just some examples, not a complete list:

  • A will listing your relationship to the child
  • A letter from a social worker, school staff, lawyer, religious leader, or licensed medical, mental health, or behavioral professional showing your relationship to the child
  • Records from a school, hospital, clinic, or other public health or social service agency showing your relationship to the child
  • Proof that you get a public benefit, such as TANF, SSI, medical coupons, food stamps, or free or reduced school lunch for the child
  • Records from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) showing you are the contact for the child
  • Proof that a child lives in your home and/or is related to you
  • Insurance for you or the child that states your relationship
  • Your Federal Income Tax return listing the child
  • Any other paperwork showing your relationship with the child and that you are the child's caregiver

It depends. The law lets nonrelatives consent to health care in these situations:

  • You are the child's guardian
  • The child's parent has given you written authorization
  • You are a school nurse, school counselor, or homeless student liaison when the child is a homeless child or youth as defined by the McKinney-Vento Act.

* You can read the entire law at RCW 7.70.065.

Maybe. It depends on the type of care, and can also depend on the age of the youth. Read When can a minor access health care without parental consent? to learn more.

For most medical programs, including insurance and subsidies, you can apply online at wahealthplanfinder.org, by calling 1-855-923-4633 (1-855-WAFINDER), or by asking for a paper application from HealthPlanFinder or from your local DSHS office.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

Last Review and Update: May 16, 2021
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