Surrogate Parent Process
Who needs a surrogate parent?
- All children or youth in the custody of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), regardless of status (this does not apply to youth in voluntary placement), who have an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Program (IEP) or who are in the referral process for special education services
- All unaccompanied homeless children or youth, as defined in Section 725 (6) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, who have an IFSP or IEP or who are in the referral process for special education services
- All children or youth whose parents cannot be located despite their schools making reasonable efforts to do so
How do students obtain a surrogate parent?
- A request form is submitted to the Maine Department of Education. The form is available online: Request for Appointment of Surrogate Parent (PDF, 153KB).
Who may serve as a surrogate parent?
- Guardians ad litem
- Neighbors or community volunteers who have the knowledge and skills that ensure adequate representation of the child/student
What if a child has foster parents?
- Foster parents are considered to be “parents” under special education regulations, so a surrogate parent request is not necessary.
- DHHS may object to foster parents acting as surrogate parents. This must be done in writing, giving reasons for objection, and including a recommendation for an alternative surrogate parent.
Who may not serve as a surrogate parent?
- DHHS workers
- Employees of the local education agency
- Employees of the residential school
- Group home employees (although staff from emergency shelters may serve as surrogates for homeless students on a temporary basis)
What rights do surrogate parents have?
- The surrogate parent has all the rights of the natural parent for educational matters, e.g., consent for educational evaluation, program placement or release of information, participation in educational meetings and request for due process hearing.
- DHHS has no authority to consent to educational evaluations or program placements, or to request due process hearings.