Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 9: Administration

9.2 Policies

9.2.4 Emergency/Security Policies and Plans Authorized Persons to Pick Up Child

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 08/27/2020.

During the enrollment process, the legal guardian(s) of the child should be established and documented along with clarification and documentation of any custody issues and court orders. A noncustodial parent should not be allowed to pick up a child without permission from the custodial parent.

Also, during enrollment, names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons authorized to take a child out of the early care and education program should be documented.

Early care and education program staff should establish a written policy for identifying individuals for whom the parents/guardians have given prior written authorization to pick up their child, such as requiring photo ID or including a photo of each authorized person in the child’s file.

If there is a circumstance in which the parent/guardian or other authorized person is not able to pick up the child, another individual may pick up a child if they are authorized to do so by the parent/guardian in authenticated communication. This communication can be

  • A witnessed phone conversation in which the caller provides prespecified identifying information (ie, passwords). The telephone authorization should be confirmed by a return call to the parents/guardians.
  • Written permission (paper, email, or text message) that includes the name, address of the individual picking up the child, and current date.1
  • The individual authorized to pick up the child must show valid identification (photo ID) during pickup.

Policies and procedures should address how the early care and education program will handle the situation if a parent/guardian arrives who is intoxicated or otherwise incapable of bringing the child home safely. Caregivers/teachers should not attempt to handle on their own an unstable (ie, intoxicated or aggressive) parent/guardian who wants to enter the facility but whose behavior poses a risk to the children. Early care and education programs have the right to deny access to anyone who poses a potential risk to children enrolled in the early care and education program.2

Should an unauthorized individual attempt to pick up a child without the early care and education program receiving prior communication with the parent/guardian, the parent/guardian should be contacted immediately. If the parent/guardian does not provide authenticated communication about the individual, the child will not be permitted to leave the early care and education program. The early care and education program should document information about the individual attempting to pick up the child. If the individual does not leave and their behavior is concerning to the early care and education staff, or if the child is abducted by force, the police should be contacted immediately with a detailed description of the individual and any other obtainable information, such as a license plate number.1

Early care and education programs should consider having a child car seat policy stating all authorized persons who pick up a child must have an age-appropriate car seat to transport the child. This policy is discussed with parents/guardians during the enrollment process. Repeated failure to comply with the policy may be grounds for dismissal. Many early care and education programs have extra car seats on hand to lend in case a parent/guardian forgets one.


Releasing a child into the care of an unauthorized person may put the child at risk. If the caregiver/teacher does not know the person, it is the caregiver’s/teacher’s responsibility to verify that the person picking up the child is authorized to do so. This requires checking the written authorization in the child’s file and verifying the identity of the person.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Policy on Actions to Be Followed When No Authorized Person Arrives to Pick Up a Child
  1. Child Care Law Center. Know the law about who may pick up a child from child care. Published June 2014. Accessed May 18, 2020

  2. Cal Health & Safety Code §1596.857(g)


Content in the STANDARD was modified on 08/27/2020.