For special education students without parents to advocate on their behalf, surrogate advocates are a lifeline. But these volunteers are proving hard to come by in Nashville at least.

Surrogate advocates attend IEP meetings — where a student’s individualized education plan is mapped out — on behalf of students with disabilities who are in foster care. School districts across the country match volunteers, who are trained by legal services providers, with students who qualify for an advocate under state or federal law. In some cases, these advocates are paid to help out.

The advocates only work with students in a school setting, acting on behalf of the student — much like a parent would — to ensure that the student has the most appropriate educational plan.

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In Nashville, however, school district officials are struggling to find more advocates. Just 80 children need advocates, but that’s a stretch for the district’s 33 volunteers, most of whom have full-time jobs, reports The Tennessean. To read more click here.