Why is there a need for surrogate parents?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Amendments of 2004 (IDEA), is a law which guarantees a free appropriate education for every child with a disability between the ages of 3 and 21. The law also states that each child with a disability should have representation related to their identification, evaluation and education placement. The Sullivan County School District invites volunteers to provide representation to students with disabilities whose parents cannot be identified or located.
What are the responsibilities of the surrogate parent?

The Surrogate Parent acts on behalf of the educational rights of a child with a disability throughout the special education process.

  • The identification, evaluation and educational placement of the child
  • Development and implementation of an Individualized Educational Program
  • The provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
The surrogate parent should:
  • Be familiar with the child's educational needs
  • Respect the confidentiality of all records
  • Be familiar with other human services agencies in the community that might provide resources or other assistance that may affect the child
  • Visit the child's school and consult with the teachers and others involved in the child's education
  • Be familiar with state and federal regulations concerning the education of students with disabilities including the contents of the local school system's document on procedural safeguards
  • Recommend changes in the program and/or placement of the child, if it does not seem appropriate and initiate mediation or a due process hearing when necessary
What qualifications are necessary to become a surrogate parent?

BLaST Intermediate Unit #17 on behalf of local school districts has designed a training
program for surrogate parents that will provide skills and knowledge in the following areas:

  • The federal law affecting children with disabilities
  • District laws, regulations and Board of Education Rules
  • Procedural rights of children and parents
  • Roles and responsibilities of surrogate parents
  • Processes and procedures used in special education
  • Confidentiality
  • Techniques of effective advocacy
  • Definitions and terms commonly used

Throughout this training those who serve as surrogate parents will expand, enhance and
improve services for children and youth.

Who can be a surrogate parent?

Any person who volunteers their service and can demonstrate the following:

  • They are of good character
  • They are at least 18 years of age
  • They possess reasonable abilities to make decisions concerning the child's educational needs
  • They are committed to acquainting themselves with a student's educational needs and the special education system
  • They are able and available to attend meetings to discuss the child's educational program

Foster parents are eligible to be surrogate parents.

Surrogate Parent Recruitment
If you are interested please contact the Special Education Office, (570) 946-4547.