Section 69-4.16 - Parents, persons in parental relation and surrogate parents

69-4.16 Parents, persons in parental relation and surrogate parents.

(a) The early intervention official shall make every effort to protect the right of parents, which includes persons in a parental relation, to make decisions about a child's receipt of early intervention services.

(b) Where the parent's availability to the child is limited due to life circumstances, including residing far from their child or the parent is residing in an institution, or the child's placement in the care and custody of the local social services commissioner, the early intervention official shall, as appropriate, facilitate the parent's involvement in early intervention services.

(c) The early intervention official shall be responsible for the determination of the need for a surrogate parent for eligible or potentially eligible children and make reasonable efforts, including contacting persons who might have information concerning the parent, or visit and/or send letters via regular and certified mail to addresses at which the parent may have lived, to discover the whereabouts of a parent before appointing a surrogate.

(1) The early intervention official shall establish agreements with local social service districts, Family Court and other relevant public agencies regarding procedures which will be used to identify eligible or potentially eligible children in need of surrogate parents.

(2) Upon receipt of a referral of an eligible or potentially eligible child who is in the care and custody or custody and guardianship of the local commissioner of social services, the early intervention official, in consultation with the local commissioner of social services or designee, shall determine the availability of the parent.

(3) In the event that the child is a ward of the State, or in the care and custody of the local social services commissioner, but his or her parents by birth or adoption are unavailable and the child has no person in parental relation, the early intervention official shall consult with the local commissioner of social services with care and custody or custody and guardianship of the child to promptly appoint a surrogate parent.

(d) The Early Intervention Official shall appoint a qualified surrogate parent for any eligible child or potentially eligible child when the child is a ward of the state, or when the child is not a ward of the state but his or her parents by birth or adoption are unavailable, after reasonable efforts to facilitate their participation.  Such appointment shall be made within 30 days after making a determination of the child’s need for a surrogate parent. 

(e) The early intervention official shall allow an available birth parent or adoptive parent to voluntarily appoint a surrogate parent upon written consent.

(f) The Early Intervention Official shall select a surrogate parent who is qualified and willing to serve in such capacity and who:

(1) has no interest that conflicts with the interests of the child;

(2) has knowledge and skills that ensure adequate representation of the child;

(3) if available and appropriate, is a relative who has an ongoing relationship with the child or a foster parent with whom the child resides;

(4) is not an employee of the lead agency or any other public agency or provider involved in the provision of early intervention or education, care or other services to the child, provided however that a person who otherwise qualifies to be a surrogate parent is not considered an employee solely because he or she is paid by a public agency to serve as a surrogate parent;

(5) has been selected, for any child who is a ward of the state or for any child whose parent is unavailable and who is in the care and custody of the local social services commissioner, in consultation with the local commissioner of social services or designee; and

(6) in the case of a child who is a ward of the State, the Early Intervention Official shall recognize the appointment of a surrogate parent by a judge overseeing the child’s case, for purposes of the Early Intervention Program.

(g) The early intervention official shall afford the surrogate parent the same rights and responsibilities as accorded to the parent by the Early Intervention Program and shall represent the child in all matters related to:

(1) screening, evaluation, and assessment of the child;

(2) development and implementation of the Individualized Family Service Plan, including annual evaluations and periodic reviews;

(3) the ongoing provision of early intervention services;

(4) the right to request mediation or an impartial hearing in the event of a dispute; and,

(5) any other rights established in the Early Intervention Program.

(h) The surrogate parent shall maintain the confidentiality of all information regarding the child, including written records.

(i) A person appointed to serve as a surrogate parent shall be removed by the early intervention official in the event:

(1) the surrogate parent is no longer willing or available to participate in that capacity;

(2) the surrogate parent fails to fulfill his or her duties;

(3) the child is no longer a ward of the state; or,

(4) a parent becomes available.

(j) The surrogate parent may request a hearing to challenge a determination by an early intervention official to remove the surrogate parent for failure to fulfill the duties of a surrogate parent. Upon request by the former surrogate parent, a hearing shall be conducted under the provisions of Part 51 of Title 10. (k) In the event that the surrogate parent is removed and the child continues to require the assistance of a surrogate parent, the early intervention official shall appoint a surrogate parent within no more than 10 working days of the removal.

Effective Date: 
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Doc Status: 
Complete