Q: Our insurance company says we only have to keep parental consent forms for church activities and outings for three years, but someone else told us the forms need to be kept until the child turns 18 years of age, for sexual abuse purposes. Which is true? Is there specific wording that should be included in the permission forms for this purpose? We do background checks and give safety and abuse awareness classes to all our children's workers and teen workers. Does that alone release us from responsibility since we have done all that is reasonable to protect our children?
A: If a church is sued for a case of child molestation that occurred during an off-site, overnight activity, the fact that the parents of the victim signed a parental consent form allowing their child to attend the event would be of little, if any, evidentiary value in a lawsuit.
Parental consent forms, in general, should be retained until a minor child reaches age 18 PLUS the applicable statute of limitations for personal injury claims under state law.