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If a foster child is receiving special education services at school who is recognized as their “legal guardian” — Social Services or their foster parents? If it is not the foster parent, who is responsible for communicating, updating, signing consent forms, etc.?

Your question addresses who is recognized as the legal guardian for a foster child receiving special services at school. Unfortunately, state law varies with respect to who has decision making authority with respect to children who are wards of the state. Further, the rights of the state, the foster parent, and the biological parent are often determined on a case by case basis.

Under some circumstance, the biological parent may retain decision making authority while in other instances, the state may have the decision making authority. Under the IDEA, there is a procedure for the appointment of the surrogate parent to serve on behalf of the child when the biological or adoptive parent is not available or capable of acting on behalf of the child. Often, foster parents are appointed as surrogate parents in order to serve in this capacity. You would need to check your state’s rules regarding wards of the state in your states special education regulations in order to obtain specific information in your state.

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