Foster Care

smiling mixed race family at home, mom with little girl, dad with a toddler

Foster parents and teachers can improve educational outcomes for foster youth by knowing the facts and then identify the roadblocks that may hamper the child’s chances for success. All of the IEP information on our website applies to foster families, but here are some resources for challenges particular to foster families.

Post Adoption Resource Centers (PARCs) provide a wide range of support
services to families  including  training,  support  groups,  and  intervention  services

Surrogate Parent

There are occasions when a school must identify a surrogate parent for a student. A surrogate parent is a person appointed to represent the interests of a child with a disability in the educational decision-making process when that child/youth has no other parent representation. The surrogate has all of the rights and responsibilities of a parent.

Evaluations for children/youth in foster care

Children/youth experiencing foster care can face extra hurdles when seeking an evaluation for special education services, especially when understanding the “Parental Consent” requirement. IDEA defines “parent” as:

  • A biological or adoptive parent
  • A foster parent
  • A guardian
  • A person acting as a parent (such as a caregiver relative who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare)
  • surrogate parent who has been appointed by the school

In situations involving foster parents, the biological parent is presumed to be the parent with the authority to consent to evaluations unless the court has assigned the authority to someone else.

Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE) has added an additional rule that includes a student/youth with a disability who has reached 18 years old, if a legal guardian has not been appointed by the court.

There are protections in IDEA that ensure the rights of children who are eligible or suspected to be eligible for special education services when a: 

  • parent can’t be identified
  • the school cannot locate parent
  • A child is the ward of the state.
  • the child is an unaccompanied homeless youth (which means a youth not in physical custody of a parent or guardian and lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence). In the situation of an unaccompanied homeless youth, a surrogate parent must be appointed

More evaluation resources at https://www.michiganallianceforfamilies.org/evaluation/

Transition to Adulthood for Foster Families

The IEP transition plan helps students be more prepared for life after high school. For students experiencing foster care there are additional considerations to face, and accessing community resources that can help make a smoother transition from school to adulthood.

This video was produced for the Project Launch grant, which prioritizes reaching underserved and underrepresented families. Project Launch’s mission is to serve transition age youth and families to achieve meaningful employment, independent living, and full community inclusion outcomes.

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