Guidance on Appointment of Special Education Surrogate Parents

  • Voluntary Placement Agreements and DCF Custody — "Child Requiring Assistance (CRA)" (formerly "CHINS" custody): When a child is in the care of DCF, as opposed to custody, the parent retains the right and responsibility to make decisions related to special education. In such cases the child has generally entered placement primarily to address his/her issues rather than as a result of concerns regarding the parent’s caretaking. DCF has care of a child in situations where the parent has either signed a voluntary placement agreement with the Department or has entered into a care and responsibility agreement with DCF in the Probate and Family Court. While DCF may receive custody of a child through a "Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) (formerly "CHINS") proceeding, that proceeding is similarly based upon the child’s issues, and in such cases the parent will consequently retain the right and responsibility to make decisions related to special education.
  • DCF Custody — Placement with a Foster Family: When a child is in the legal custody of DCF through an order of either the Juvenile Court or Probate and Family Court (with the exception of "Child Requiring Assistance" matters), is living in a foster home, and DCF determines that the child’s parent should not continue in the role of educational decision-maker, the DCF social worker will request the child’s foster parent to act in this role unless a conflict of interest is identified. When the child’s foster parent agrees to assume this responsibility, federal law provides for the child’s foster parent to have authority to make decisions related to special education, and no appointment by the SESP Program is necessary, nor is there a need to request an SESP.
  • DCF Custody — Placement in Congregate Care: When a child is in the legal custody of DCF and living in a congregate care setting (for example, a group home or residential placement) and DCF has determined that the child’s parent will not continue in the role of special educational decision-maker, DCF will seek the appointment of an SESP to make special education decisions on behalf of the child.

This guidance:

Content retrieved from: http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/advisories/2013SurrogateParent.html.

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