Exceptional Children's Services

Surrogate Parent

What is a Surrogate Parent?

All children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education under state and federal special education laws. Included in these laws is a mandate for the parents of children with disabilities to have the opportunity to actively participate in the educational decision-making process. Unfortunately, some children with disabilities do not have parents who can fulfill this very important role, leaving their educational planning solely to representatives from their local school district or other agencies. Federal special education law, The Individuals with Disabilities Act or IDEA, and state procedures require that an individual must be appointed to make decisions regarding the educational services these children will receive. The surrogate parent participates only in decisions regarding the education of the child and is not responsible for any financial costs or direct care of the child with disabilities.

What Type of Child Requires a Surrogate Parent?

A child with a disability requires a Surrogate Parent when:

  • the parent or guardian is not known;
  • the parent or guardian is unavailable;
  • the child is a ward of the state.

Who Appoints a Surrogate Parent?

The Surrogate Parent is recommended by the local school system or local education agency (LEA) and appointed by the state agency responsible for educating the child. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Secretary of the Department of Human Resources, or the Secretary of the Department of Corrections shall appoint a surrogate parent after the person has been recruited, trained and nominated by the local education agency.

What are the Responsibilities a Surrogate Parent?

The Surrogate Parent acts as a substitute parent and is given the responsibility of determining the child’s educational experiences. A Surrogate Parent is not responsible for any financial costs or direct care of the child with disabilities.

The Surrogate Parent represents the child in every step of the education process including identification, evaluation, and educational placement. The Surrogate Parent fulfills the parent role at all IEP meetings and works to ensure that the child receives a free appropriate public education.

A Surrogate Parent is also responsible for keeping confidential all information from the child’s educational, medical, or case records.

What are the Benefits to the Surrogate Parents?

The student with a disability will have someone whose sole responsibility is to represent him or her in order to ensure that he or she receives a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

How Do I Become a Surrogate Parent?

For more information, select the link(s) below or call 910.678.2440.

Steps to Become a Surrogate Parent-Form CCS 6a

Surrogate Parent Volunteer Application-Form CCS 6



Published by Shonda Virgil on June 14, 2018

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