Augusta – The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is seeking volunteers to serve as an education “surrogate” parent to a child or children with disabilities who have no available natural parents and/or guardians, including children in the custody of the state.
An educational surrogate parent is appointed to act independently on behalf of a student with disabilities and to safeguard the student’s rights in the special education process. Examples include permission for evaluation and placement, meetings to discuss the child’s programming, release of information, and request for educational hearing.
“Being a surrogate parent to children from many different backgrounds is sometimes challenging but always rewarding. These children, and too many more like them, need to know that someone cares about them and is watching over their educational needs and progress,” said Peter Quimby, Education Surrogate from Thorndike.
As part of the State’s Education Surrogate Parent program, Maine DOE matches children up with a volunteer surrogate parent who acts to ensure the child is provided with equal educational opportunities.
“The time commitment is as much or as minimal as the volunteer wants it to be. Some are only able to attend the annual IEP (educational programing) meeting either in person or by phone, and others are very involved by not only attending meetings, but also visiting the student and staying in regular contact,” said Commissioner Robert Hasson. “It’s a really great program, but we always need more volunteers.”
The voluntary position may sometimes require travel, but travel expenses are reimbursed by the State of Maine.