Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The ID Problem in Michigan

I posted a couple of days ago about my difficulty with the Secretary of State's office (branch) in Gaylord on Friday. I had taken Johnny (age 17) in to get a state ID card. Long story short - I had to make two trips with a stack of stuff to try to prove his identity. It appears that a parent cannot vouch for her minor child's identity in Michigan, and you really should send him to public school if you don't want trouble getting any sort of ID card, much less a driver's license.

Well, we got the card after a headache ensued (for me). Tonight I was reading my e-mails and I saw in my HSLDA newsletter that we aren't the only homeschooling family in Michigan who's run into this problem. Here's what HSLDA has to say about it:

Starting at the end of January 2008, new regulations became effective requiring documentation in four different areas before the state would issue a driver’s license or state identification card. The state now requires documentation of (1) your Social Security number, (2) your legal presence, (3) identity, and (4) Michigan residency.

After the new regulations went into effect, many homeschool families had trouble getting the documentation required for identity because of the acceptable documents listed, the only one that applied to many minors was school records, and parent-made documentation is not allowed. This meant that parents could not prove that their child was, in fact, who they claimed he was!

As many members called Home School Legal Defense Association, they were able to satisfy this requirement by obtaining a third-party identification letter from us. As this problem became more widespread, HSLDA looked into the situation to see if there was some other solution.

HSLDA then called the Michigan Secretary of State’s office to discuss the problem. HSLDA found out that many different types of documents can be used to fulfill the identity requirement. These are considered “life documents” and may include such documents as a church directory, test records from an outside source, awards or recognition from church or community groups, or a newspaper article—anything from a third party that has the child’s name on it.

This should provide a solution for homeschool families in Michigan who are getting their child a state-issued identification. However, the availability of use of these documents is not always known by the local branch. Thus, if your local branch office gives you a difficult time when you use “life documents” to prove identity, ask them to contact the Secretary of State’s office, or contact us and we can call the Secretary of State on your behalf.

We've been members of HSLDA ever since Josh was in kindergarten, so I wouldn't hesitate to call them if need be. Thankfully, we got this issue resolved without having to call them, but oooh, I still have to do the same thing for Evan, Ryan & Amanda in the years to come. I hope I can come up with enough Tylenol to kill the headaches.

**I highly recommend joining HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) for any homeschooling family. I called them in 1996 about an issue involving me babysitting in my home and accepting payment through the welfare system. I haven't had to call them again, but it's nice to know they're there if you need them. Now with this state ID thing, I feel better knowing I have a "backup" if needed.

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