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Surrogate Parent Program Overview

Online Surrogate Training

Surrogate parents play an important role in a child's education. The surrogate parent is an advocate for the student. The more surrogate parents know and the more comfortable they are with the special education process and procedures, the more effective they will be in the role of surrogate parent.

This training module is a guide for training surrogate parents. It includes information on the laws and procedures for representing a child in the special education process.

Go To The Online Training

Students with disabilities who are under state guardianship, or whose parents are unknown or otherwise unavailable, may be represented by surrogate parents trained to assist them through the education process. In addition, Minnesota law allows parents to request that a surrogate parent be named to represent their child. For children with disabilities, the role of the surrogate parent is especially important since the individual who is appointed as surrogate parent participates in IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings to ensure the child obtains an appropriate education. Surrogate parents need to have access to information, training, and support so that they may develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to advocate effectively for children with disabilities.

PACER's surrogate parent project reaches out to surrogate parents, potential surrogate parents, and foster parents from across the state to assist their advocacy efforts. Foster parents are included in the project as they represent the largest group of potential surrogate parents. The project also serves school and county personnel who have questions about the surrogate provisions in the law.


  • Individual assistance by phone or in person from Parent Advocates
  • Workshops designed for surrogate and potential surrogate parents to increase the knowledge and skills necessary for them to advocate effectively
  • Presentations, workshops and meetings designed for school and county personnel to assist them in their knowledge of surrogate parent rules and procedures
  • Online Surrogate Training - Answers many questions concerning surrogate and foster parents.
  • The Parent Role in Special Education: Who Takes this Role for Foster Children? (video)
    This short video gives a brief overview of the special education laws around who may take on the role of parent for a child with a disability who may not have a biological or adoptive parent to serve in that role.
  • Surrogate Parent Program Publications

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