Surrogate Parents

What is a Surrogate Parent?

A surrogate parent is a person who is appointed to act in the interests of a special education student who does not have a parent who can make educational decisions. The surrogate parent works with the school to plan the child’s special education services. A surrogate parent does not take care of the child at home, like an adoptive parent or a foster parent does. A surrogate parent is not financially responsible for the child. A surrogate parent is more like a “school parent”—involved only in planning and making decisions about the child’s special education.

Why would a child need a Surrogate Parent?

There are many important decisions to be made about the education of special education students, particularly students with disabilities. It takes a team of people to make these decisions and to plan for the child’s special education services. In fact, there are several steps in the special education process where a parent’s participation or consent is vital and is even required by law. So, if the child’s own parent is unknown or cannot be located, or if the child is a ward of the State, the child must have a surrogate parent. The student may be a girl or a boy, anywhere from 3 to 21 years old. The student may have a learning disability, a physical impairment, a vision or hearing impairment, or other special learning needs, such as giftedness. The student may live in a group foster home, a juvenile justice facility, or another setting. Though each of these students is unique, they all need a surrogate parent to work with the school to meet their educational needs.