Parents and professionals collaborate when they "work together in an equally reciprocal relationship that is based on mutual trust and caring" (NCSET, n.d., http://www.ncset.org/topics/family/default.asp?topic=29). In parent-professional collaborations in special education, families not only participate as equal partners in their child’s Individual Educational Plan assessment and planning process but also take part in a broad array of education activities to assist their own child and other children.
According to the National Center on Secondary Transition and Education (NCSET, n.d.), "The move toward collaboration is an effort to improve direct services for families and professionals, identify informal supports, and build communities for people with disabilities that are based on their culture, dreams, goals, priorities, and needs." Students increase in both achievement and attitude when families participate in education (Henderson & Berla, 1994, cited in NCSET, n.d.). Other benefits include improved student attendance, fewer discipline problems, and higher aspirations for school and career development (Caplan, Hall, Lubin, Fleming, 1997, cited in NCSET, n.d).
Parent involvement in the IEP process is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and promoted by the Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), initiated in 1984 (Vosler-Hunter, 1989, p. 4). IDEA regulations require that "one or both of the parents of a child with a disability are present at each IEP Team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate" (Section 300.322, CFR). Parent-professional collaboration moves beyond participation in the IEP process.
NCSET (n.d.) notes that parents may not only actively participate in their own child’s IEP planning and service provision but may also perform activities to assist other children, including:
To ensure the involvement and participation of parents beyond their own child, NCSET (n.d.) suggests that:
"A number of environmental and emotional factors may form barriers for parents and professionals in their ability to establish an effective partnership" (Vosler-Hunter, 1989, p. 9). Some of these barriers are (Vosler-Hunter, 1989, pp, 9-11):
"Cultural factors and the extent to which professionals recognize and honor cultural difference are a vital component for effective collaboration" (Vosler-Hunter, 1989). "As our communities become more diverse in culture, race, ethnic, and religious heritage, there are additional issues to consider. The challenges to involve families whose primary language is not English, who are recent immigrants with no formal school experience, for those in poverty and low socioeconomic status (SES) and for those who have had negative school experiences, it may be necessary to (NCSET, n.d.):
NCSET (n.d.) suggests that schools, families, and related organizations consider how well they foster parent-professional collaboration for youth with disabilities by asking themselves the following questions:
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition. (n.d.) Parent/Professional collaboration topic. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute for Community Integration. Available at http://www.ncset.org/topics/family/default.asp?topic=29
Vosler-Hunter, R.W., (1989). Changing roles, changing relationships: Parent-professional collaboration on behalf of children with emotional disabilities. Portland, OR: Portland State University, Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children’s Mental Health. Available at http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/detail?accno=ED332414
Trainor, Audrey, 2007. Parents as partners in transition focused education. (PowerPoint presentation). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Madison. Available at http://www.nsttac.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdf/20.pdf
Sheehey, P.H., & Sheehey, P.E. (2007, November). Elements for successful parent-professional collaboration: The fundamental things apply as time goes by. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus, 4, 2,. Available at here (URL is very long)
Mapp, K.L., Hall, S. & Bowmann, T. (2003). Making parents partners. (Reading Rockets (Web cast with PowerPoint and transcript). Washington, DC: WETA. Available at http://www.readingrockets.org/webcasts/2003
The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. (August, 2005). Meeting the challenge: Getting parents involved in schools. Washington, DC: Author. Available at http://www.readingrockets.org/article/25979
Disability.gov Parent Involvement Page
"Disability.gov is an award-winning federal Web site that contains disability-related resources on programs, services, laws and regulations to help people with disabilities lead full, independent lives." This Web page provides links to numerous resources related to parent involvement.
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
NCSET’s Web site contains a number of resources on topics such as parent-professional collaboration, IEP and transition planning, self-determination, service coordination, aligning school and community resources, and more.
PACER provides information, support, workshops, and referrals to both families of children with disabilities (birth through 21 years) and professionals. Resources include the Simon Technology Center, Health Information and Advocacy Center, and programs focusing on employment, grandparents, housing, and bullying prevention.
| The development of this website was funded by the University of South Florida St. Petersburg
through a grant by the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services,
Florida Department of Education (2010 - 2011, 291-2621A-1C008).