Off the Grid....[reporting a birth]

I’m sure they might try, since after all it’s usually in the rules that the parents need to show the birth certificate, but I think the Supreme Court ruling on illegal immigrants and public schools might make it very difficult if the parents pressed the issue. If it violates the 14th Amendment for schools to deny enrollment to children who are prohibited by federal law from being in the country, wouldn’t it be worse to deny enrollment to children over a comparatively less serious paperwork issue?

You assume wrong. The bureaucratic mindset simply does not work like that. They believe (A) their computer system, and (B) official paperwork. And ©, the official policies and procedures are Holy Writ, and woe be to the heretic who tries to go outside them.

Certain documents require certain other documents in order to be issued, and if you don’t have the prior documents, they likely will not be interested in even trying to help you, but even if they are, their rules and procedures virtually always will not allow them to even try to help.

Such cases virtually never have a happy ending unless a powerful politician gets involved, and even then it’s often very difficult. The power of the purse is about the only force in the world that’s powerful enough to override bureaucratic procedure.

I guess my State is one of the ones who haven’t set any restrictions on who attends public K-12 schools … if you’re a child, you’re going to school, no questions asked.

One of the questions that it is reasonable to ask is “What is your relationship to this child?” “How old is this child?”. A birth certificate shows both those things, and I rather think everywhere asks for one for those reasons. Now, they might enroll you if you can convince them that you really, really don’t have one, but it will take some convincing–they will assume that you’re lying and there’s something on the birth certificate you want to hide. And for good reason–it’s probably the more likely scenario.

Every state has a procedure for a delayed birth certificate, although the specific rules vary from place to place. For example, in Kansas the Office of Vital Statistics is authorized to issue one based on acceptable evidence (instructions – PDF) such as affidavits. Meanwhile, Texas generally insists you file a petition with the court in the county in which you were born, and then the court decides what evidence it will or won’t accept.

Even illegal immigrant children usually have documents. It may be a Mexican birth certificate or a consular document, but it exists. The kind of people who have NO documents for their kids nowadays are mostly the people who would not put their kids in public school in the first place–the ones who think a Social Security number is the mark of the beast and so forth.

Like I said, the low level minions will follow their formulas. No X without Y document. But somewhere in the mess is a person empowered to bypass the red tape. It may require a fairly high up person to take some initiative.

Let’s take Bob’s friend’s problem. They want his taxes. Assuming UK works like USA and Canada, the person needs the equivalent of a SSN to record his taxes paid. They can’t really take him to court and say “he did not pay his taxes, but we refuse to give him a tax number so he can pay, because he does not have documentation”. Even before all that - they can interview people who say “yes, he’s been part of the show circuit for 20 years”, or “I remember Joe growing up on the farm down the road”. So other than maybe being off by a few years, in terms of old age pension payouts, etc. - where’s the harm in someone (or in some cases, as previous thread mentioned, a court) taking the person’s word for most likely birth date and making it official. It’s just that the front line DMV or IRS grunt cannot make that decision.

The number of locally-grown people with almost no possible data trail is quite small; especially younger ones. It’s not like they need a standard procedure. Even the extreme ones, there’s usually things like church records that are acceptable in lieu of more official documents.

In Quebec, church documents were more official than anything else well into the 1970s.

I know a woman who was raised by atheists, so although she was born in a hospital, staff at the hospital assumed the local church would register her birth.

Several years later the parents discovered that they had missed out on “baby bonus” cheques and that their daughter did not legally exist. They ended up going to court to prove their daughter’s existence.

This woman only managed to get a birth certificate when she was in her late 20s. Until then she had to submit registered copies of the court documents whenever she needed to file a birth certificate.

I think the world you live in is different than the world I live in. Every single time I have had a bureaucratic issue I’ve went in a talked to the person I thought could help me and they either helped me or pointed me in the right direction. The people helping me were just regular public service employees and they have usually seen it all and know exactly what to do.

I work in public service and this is pretty much correct.

Complaints about bureaucracy are warranted, and nobody hates it more than the public servants who are dealing with it every day. But usually what bureaucracy will do is slow things down, not prevent anyone from doing anything. Someone who can’t help you will know someone who can.