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​​What is an Educational Surrogate Parent?

An Educational Surrogate Parent is an individual who has been appointed to represent the educational interests of a child with disabilities when:​

  • No parent (as defined under 34 CFR 300.30) can be identified;
  • The parent cannot be located;
  • The child is a youth in care; or
  • The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth.​​

 Educational Surrogate Parent Request

To submit a request to appoint, replace, or withdraw an Educational Surrogate Parent for a student, please complete the online request form.

 How Does One Become an Educational Surrogate Parent?

Thank you for your interest in the Educational Surrogate Parent Program!

​​​​By volunteering as an educational surrogate parent, they become an important member of a team in determining and ensuring a child receives a free and appropriate public education. The educational surrogate parent must:
  1. Complete the entire training
  2. Pass the training exam, and
  3. Complete and pass a background check
ISBE works with the parent training and information center, Family Matters, to recruit and train new ESPs. If you are interested in volunteering as an ESP, please email with your information, including phone number and address. 

What are the Responsibilities:
  • Learns about the student’s educational needs by getting acquainted with the student, communicating with personnel involved in the student’s education and/or care, and observing the student at school;
  • Acts as the student’s advocate for educational matters;
  • Provides or withholds consent for assessment and services/placement;
  • Attends educational meetings on the student’s behalf;
  • Works with school staff to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the student;
  • Negotiates for appropriate services on behalf of the student;
  • Abides by the laws of confidentiality when sharing information about the student;
  • Requests complaint, mediation or due process procedures, if necessary.
  • Reports services twice a year (also basis for reimbursement)​​​

 Is an Educational Surrogate Parent Reimbursed for Expenses?

An educational surrogate parent (ESP) is eligible to receive a flat fee ($50) remibursement per student served twice a year. To be eligible for the stipend, the ESP must have provided at least one of the following services:
  1. Observed the student at school
  2. Met with personnel involved in the student's education
  3. Met with personnel involved in the student's care
  4. Attended meetings to develop or review the student's Individualized Educational Program (IEP)
ESPs submit a form twice a year to request the stipend for service provided to each student the ESP serves. An ESP can also choose to forego the stipend and volunteer their time.​

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