There are many ways that you can support children identified as being “DCF” (Department of Children and Families) involved that is a child who receives supports and/or services from DCF. If you are unsure of who or what DCF is or what they do their website identifies them as a Department that “works in partnership with families and communities to keep children safe from abuse and neglect. In most cases, DCF is able to provide supports and services to keep children safe with parents or family members. When necessary, DCF provides foster care or finds new permanent families for children through kinship, guardianship or adoption.”
There are many ways DCF can become involved in a child’s life.
Here is a quick overview of some of the common types of DCF cases:
Voluntary services and supports – the family is intact and is working with DCF to either manage or correct identified issues/concerns.
Care and Protection (“C&P”) – in these cases DCF has removed the child(ren) from the parent and/or guardian’s care and is now the custodian of the child(ren). This removal could be temporary or could be permanent.
Child Requiring Assistance (“CRA”) – in these cases DCF focuses on the family and provides services to help the child remain with the family and in the community.
Sometimes when a child becomes DCF involved, their parent(s) lose the right to make decisions on their behalf related to education. That’s when a SESP steps in and helps…
What is the SESP Program?
The SESP Program fulfills “the mandates of federal special education laws which require that procedures be in place to protect the special educational rights of all children who may require special education services, including those who are in the care or custody of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or whose parents are unknown or unavailable, and ensure that the rights of these children to benefit from a free and appropriate public education are protected.”
What is the mission of the SESP program?
The mission of the Special Education Surrogate Parent Program is to promote positive educational outcomes for children and youth in state custody by providing volunteers to represent their best interests in the special education process.
Who is a SESP?
Special Education Surrogate Parents are volunteers who act on behalf of an assigned student who receives Special Education services or needs to be evaluated in order to receive Special Education services. You do NOT need any special training to be a SESP. You will receive training and support to do this very important work that has a life long affect on a child.
As a SESP you have the same rights and authority of a parent. You ‘step into’ the shoes of the parent to make all education related decisions on behalf of your assigned student until either the parent regains the decision making authority, the child is placed in foster care and the foster parent wants to make the education decisions, the child is no longer in DCF custody or the child turns eighteen.
What are some tasks you may be do for your student?
Meet with and observe the student at school.
Review all school records and receive progress reports.
Sign evaluation consent forms.
Attend education related meetings for the student and be involved in the planning and discussions regarding their special educational needs.
Approve an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the student.
Monitor student's services, progress and educational placement.
If you want to become involved and help make a difference in the lives of these children, consider applying to be a SESP yourself by clicking here.
Attorney Curran has served as a Special Education Surrogate Parent for many students since 2017.
E.M. Curran & Associates LLC