Parent involvement in New York City: Comparing two general and two special education programs and Epstein typology

Catherine Barksdale, Fordham University


The primary purpose of this study is to ascertain the educational role of parents of children with special needs through the use of comparative case-study methodology. The objective is to look at four parent support programs to determine how they relate to Epstein's typology of suggestions, and thus to determine the similarities and dissimilarities of the sample programs using five standard characteristics for analysis. A questionnaire was used to obtain the perceptions of participants concerning the role of general and special needs parents. The data were also collected at each of the four program sites through interviews and from documents and observations where possible. Major findings were as follows: First, sample programs showed some similarities and some dissimilarities to Epstein's typology. Second, volunteerism was the greatest similarity to the Epstein typology. Third, dissimilarities of the four sample programs included multicultural, multilingual, and employment opportunities for parents. Fourth, the special education programs were found to be dissimilar to the other programs and Epstein in their inclusionary environment, compliance issues, sensitivity to individual differences, curriculum adaptation, and involvement. Fifth, little information or evidence existed to specifically assist special needs parents with developing significant levels of involvement and participation other than those efforts dictated by the program guidelines. Significant similarities existed between the programs used in the study and Epstein's strategies on parent involvement. The major dissimilarities were in the area of needs assessments, referrals or follow-up activities, social services, care/therapy, advocacy, due process, and Individualized Education Plan (IEP)--procedures for parents of children with special needs. The study also revealed that general education programs did not meet the needs of parents of children with special needs. Also, in the general education programs they were not included in the goals, organizational structure and activities, school-community relationships. However, the special education programs went far beyond the general education programs and the Epstein typology in supporting this special population. To conclude, this study may open new avenues of research in the development of programs to enhance meaningful parent involvement and training for parents of special needs children.

Subject Area

School administration|Preschool education|Special education|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Barksdale, Catherine, "Parent involvement in New York City: Comparing two general and two special education programs and Epstein typology" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9729599.