Some people in the Brownwood community are stepping up to help kids who need guidance.
According to Brownwood ISD Director of Special Education Michele Cruse, the students are primarily those who are in special education or whose parents are unidentified. They are between three and 22 years old. They may be wards of the state, abandoned or in foster care.
Volunteers attended a free, three-hour training Wednesday morning to learn about what it takes to be a surrogate parent to these students.
"They learn about the students and become involved enough that they at least review their educational records," Cruse said. "They get to know the students and then when you're a surrogate parent, your prime responsibility is to act as the parent or the representative for the student."
In order to avoid conflicts of interest, surrogate parents cannot be employees of the district, the Texas Education Agency or the Department of Family and Protective Services.
Education specialist Lindy Lyles came from San Angelo to Brownwood to help with training.
"It really helps to know that there are good people who genuinely want to help kids without getting anything in return," Lyles said.
Cruse said the need for volunteers varies, but she is always happy to have volunteers.
"There are times that we need very few,” Cruse said. “There are other times that we need upwards of 15 or 20."
Currently 14 students are in need of surrogate parents. Those who complete training will be put on a waiting list and will be contacted to fulfill their roles when necessary.
Betty Stegemoller said she decided to be a surrogate parent because it is important to help kids and she enjoys interacting with them.
"I'd like for the students to understand that there are people who care about them doing well, and care about their future, care about their time right now in this situation," Stegemoller said. "There are people who wish the best for them and are willing to work to help that come about."
"If you have an interest in working with kids but you're not sure, it's a great way to just start and see if that's a passion that you're going to have," Cruse said.
If you're interested in volunteering or have any questions, you can contact Cruse at (325) 643-5644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.