Educational Surrogates, Volunteer Work with Disabled Children

Children with disabilities have special educational needs. Educational Surrogates are volunteers who work with disabled children to make sure their educational needs are met, when the children’s parents can’t or are unavailable.

Children with disabilities have special educational needs. Educational Surrogates are volunteers who work with disabled children to make sure their educational needs are met, when the children’s parents can’t or are unavailable.

IDEA and Educational Surrogates

The state (in America) passed the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which includes the need for provision of educational surrogates to act on behalf of children with disabilities where they have no parental or guardian figure to assure their educational needs are met. The Act states that these figures must have no conflict of interest and therefore cannot be a worker within any organisation involved in the child’s care or education.

The Role of Educational Surrogate Parents

Educational Surrogate Parents are appointed by the state to act on the behalf of a child with disabilities in any decisions about their education. The role is performed by a volunteer with each sate being responsible for ensuring that the educational surrogate is fully trained and capable of fulfilling the position. The educational surrogate, after training will be expected to learn about the disabled child, its school and home life, through meetings with the child and those involved in both home life and schooling. The volunteer would then be expected to work with educational staff, but providing or withholding consent in matters affecting the disabled child’s education, and making sure that the specific special needs of the child are meet.

Through meetings with educational staff the surrogate educational parent is directly involved with forming the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). They would be expected to complain, or request mediation should they feel the child wasn’t being provided with appropriate resources or programs. Educational surrogate parents are also expected to provide written reports at least twice a year.

The amount of time involved in the role is variable, and dependant on the needs and situation and age of the child, the state they reside in, the nature of the child’s disability. The training needed prior to taking up the role normally takes a day, but again can vary from state to state. The training is freely provided by the state that the volunteer and the child reside in, and some expenses are reimbursed, but this is not a paid role, and regular attendance to meet with teachers would be expected.

U.S. Department of Education--Building the Legacy of IDEA 2004

Illinois State Board of Education: Educational Surrogate Parent Program

Massachusetts Special Education Surrogate Parent Program

North Dakota: Guidelines-Educational Surrogate Parent 

U.S. Department of Education

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Phoenix Montoya
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Susan Kaul
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