§ 4226.96. Surrogate parents.

 (a)  Each county MH/MR program shall ensure that the rights of a child referred or eligible for tracking or early intervention services are protected by the appointment of a surrogate parent if one of the following applies:

   (1)  A parent cannot be identified.

   (2)  The whereabouts of an identified parent, after reasonable efforts, cannot be discovered.

   (3)  The child is in the legal custody of a county children and youth agency and one of the following applies:

     (i)   The birth parents cannot be identified.

     (ii)   The whereabouts of the birth parents, after reasonable efforts, cannot be discovered.

     (iii)   The birth parents are deceased and the child has no other parent.

     (iv)   The parental rights of the birth parents have been terminated and the child has no other parent.

 (b)  The duty of the county MH/MR program under subsection (a) includes establishing procedures for determining whether the child needs a surrogate parent and assigning a surrogate parent to the child.

 (c)  In complying with subsection (b), the county MH/MR program shall select a surrogate parent who:

   (1)  Has no interest that conflicts with the interests of the child the surrogate represents.

   (2)  Has knowledge and skills that ensure adequate representation of the child.

   (3)  Is willing to assume the responsibilities of being a surrogate parent.

   (4)  Is not an employee of an agency or persons providing early intervention services or other services to the child or to any family members of the child.

   (5)  Is not an employee of any State agency.

 (d)  A person who otherwise qualifies to be a surrogate parent under subsection (c) is not an employee solely because the surrogate is paid by a public agency to serve as a surrogate parent.

 (e)  The foster parent of a child in substitute care, who meets the criteria in subsection (c), may serve as a surrogate parent for the child with the approval of the county children and youth agency that has legal custody of the child.

 (f)  A surrogate parent may represent a child in all matters related to the following:

   (1)  The evaluation and assessment of the child.

   (2)  The development and implementation of the child’s IFSPs, including annual evaluation and periodic review meetings.

   (3)  The ongoing provision of early intervention services to the child.

   (4)  Other rights established under this chapter.

Cross References

   This section cited in 55 Pa. Code §  4226.5 (relating to definitions).

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