Surrogate Parent

  • Pursuant to Federal Regulations - Section 300.519 Surrogate Parents


    Each public agency must ensure that an IDEA-eligible or thought-to-be-eligible child, including unaccompanied homeless youth and wards of the state, has a parent to rep­resent him or her in all matters relating to the identification, evaluation, educational placement and provision of FAPE.


    The public agency must ensure that the rights of the child are protected when:

    1.      No parent can be identified

    2.      The public agency, after reasonable efforts, cannot locate a parent

    3.      The child is a ward of the State under the laws of that State

    4.      The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth as defined in section 725(6) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a(6))


    For purposes of surrogate parent appointment, “parent” is defined as a biological parent, a guardian, or a person acting as a parent of a child including, but not limited to a grandparent, a step-parent, or a foster parent with the child lives.  The term does not include the State if the child is a ward of the State.  The term does not include a person whose parental rights have been terminated.

    In addition, understand that under Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Court Procedural Rules (PA. R.J.C.P. 147 and 1147) courts are authorized to appoint Educational Decision Makers (EDMs) for all children – eligible for special education or not – who lack an adult to make education decisions for them. The IDEA independently authorizes courts to appoint surrogate parents for students who are or may be eligible for special education who lack a “parent” under the IDEA.


    The local school district is given the responsibility to determine when a child with a disability who required special education and who resides in the district is without a parent.  The district must appoint a surrogate parent.  Training for persons serving as surrogate parents will be provided by the Intermediate Unit 5. 


    Make a difference in the life of a child by volunteering to be a surrogate parent. A surrogate parent is responsible for the “educational rights” for a child who has an Individual Education Plan (IEP). With educational rights comes the responsibility for making educationally-related decisions based on the best interest for the child.  The surrogate parent holds the same rights as a parent/legal guardian and should be a strong advocate for the child in all education matters. 

    If you are interested in volunteering to serve as a surrogate parent, more information can be obtained by contacting the IU5 Parent Support center at 814-734-5610, ext. 7070.  The IU5 Parent Consultant will provide interested parties with the paperwork and training to become a Surrogate Parent.