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Foster Care?  Legal Guardianship?  What do I do?

It is very common that a minor who will be going on Get On The Bus will have a caregiver who is not their parent or legal guardian (with legal paperwork to show guardianship).  Grandma might have a letter from the daughter giving her “guardianship,” and maybe it is even notarized, but this is not sufficient for the prison.

Always identify who is the actual legal guardian.

If it is the mom in prison, she can give permission for someone to bring her child by notarizing a permission letter at the prison.  However, if the child is in foster care, the county Department of Social Services is their legal guardian – they are a “ward” of the court.  Working with the social worker is very easy, and they will obtain a permission letter from a judge from child welfare court designating someone from GOTB to accompany the minor for the day.


  • Grandma is the legal guardian with court papers, but it is too difficult for her to go;  Have her notarize a letter giving someone else permission to take the child.
  • Child is in foster care;  Contact the social worker and request that they work in tandem with the Family Services Coordinator (FSC is a social worker) at the prison to make sure all proper steps are followed.  GOTB has contact information for FSC’s.

Required Documents:

    1. All adults need a valid driver's license, state ID, or a passport.
    2. Children with a parent need an original birth certificate.
    3. Children traveling with a legal guardian need an original birth certificate and court-stamped guardianship papers.
    4. Children traveling with an adult companion need an original birth certificate, a notarized letter from the parent or legal guardian giving them permission to bring the child to the prison, and court-stamped guardianship papers if there is a legal guardian.
  • Dad is parenting (or if not, perhaps he can be contacted) but doesn’t want to go on GOTB;  He can notarize someone to accompany the child.
  • Sister is taking care of the kids, but is not a legal guardian.  Ask if the mom in prison still has parenting rights.  If so, she signs a notarized letter giving sister permission to accompany the kids.  If she does not have parenting rights, ask if there is a legal guardian.  If not, the county is the legal guardian and the children have a social worker.  Find that person and work with them just like a child in foster care.

Again, the primary question is always “who is the legal guardian?”  From there, you can figure out the correct paperwork to provide to the prison so the child can visit.


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