About our Program
The Special Education Surrogate Parent (SESP) Program is a statewide organization that was established in response to State and Federal special education laws requiring parental participation in the IEP process. The program is specifically focused to ensure that this right is extended to students in the custody of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and to students whose parents are unknown or are unable to participate in the decision making process. The program identifies eligible students and matches the student to a trained volunteer, who then works with other members of the team to develop an appropriate educational program. Our Special Education Surrogate Parents have been serving students across Massachusetts for over 30 years.
- The SESP Program receives approximately 650 referrals per year from the Department of Children and Families, school districts, and other community agencies across Massachusetts.*
- There are approximately 720 students in MA who are currently appointed to an SESP.**
- There are over 500 current SESP volunteers actively appointed to at least one student.**
- Our volunteers include retired and current teachers and administrators, parents of children with special needs, attorneys, relatives and visiting resources, concerned citizens, and professionals in education and human services.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) contracts the responsibility of managing the program to two agencies, The Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) and the Federation for Children with Special Needs. CES’s Special Education Surrogate Parent (SESP) Program, is responsible for student eligibility determination, SESP appointment, and case management. The Federation for Children with Special Needs is responsible for volunteer recruitment, training, and support of the SESPs through the Recruitment, Training, and Support Center (RTSC).
The vision of the Special Education Surrogate Parent Program is to provide an educational pathway to success for children and youth in state custody.
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.
** September 2021