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First Steps to Take

Should you find yourself unexpectedly thrust into the role of caregiver, this guide provides a checklist to assist you in gaining the authority and access you will need to care for your grandchild. 

If you are not in such an emergency, this guide offers suggestions of steps you should take in advance of a crisis as well as a glimpse of the steps you will need to be prepared to take once you become the primary caregiver. Doing research ahead of the time is the first and best step you can take as a potential primary caregiver. 

  • Gather family members and discuss who will be responsible for your grandchild legally and financially. Also consider who will make medical and educational decisions for your grandchild. If possible, do this before an emergency requires immediate decisions. 
  • Decide where the child will live, or who will have physical custody. This is not always the same household as that of the legal guardian.
  • Research your legal options by reading through our glossary of legal terms internal link needed and considering these important questions. Then make a brief call to an attorney for general advice as to how to proceed. If you don't know an attorney, visit our directory of services internal link needed for information on legal services available in Wyoming. 
  • As a family make your decision and have it made legally enforceable. You can do this by either completing the forms to request temporary guardianship for educational, medical- and dental-care purposes (see You Are Not Alone internal link needed guide), or if you wish to seek a more permanent arrangement, you should engage an attorney* who specializes in guardianship or whose practice is family law, and have them draw up custody, adoption or permanent guardianship papers. 
  • In the event of a parent's death, obtain a copy of the death certificate, the last will and testament if one exists and/or any other legal documents that indicate the designation of a preferred guardian, and contact the Social Security Administration about survivor benefits. 
  • Consult the Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS) about various types of support including financial assistance options. 
  • Notify your grandchild's school of the situation. Be sure to have the child's records altered to reflect any change in guardianship. 
  • Consider medical coverage as well as services—will a change in guardianship alter the child's insurance coverage? If you can't provide coverage, consult DFS about alternatives. Medical records will need to reflect any change in guardianship—do this early to prevent possible problems in an emergency. 
  • If there is another living parent who will not be assuming custody, you may be able to file for child support. Consult DFS or your attorney for more information. 
  • Consider practical and emotional support for you and your family, including caregiver training and respite services offered through the Wyoming Department of Health.

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