UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Foster parents of children with special needs : experiences with school involvement Picardo, Rochelle


For all children, and especially those with special education needs, parent school involvement is important to their experiences in school. School involvement is an umbrella term that encompasses various activities, including parent-teacher conferencing, attending open house events at school, reading to children, helping with homework, checking homework, and conveying expectations about academic achievement. Another form of school involvement is advocacy, or the actions taken by parents to ensure their children are receiving the most appropriate services at school. This form of involvement is especially important for children with special needs; parent duties described in IDEA (Leiter & Kraus, 2004) and the BC Ministry of Education Policy Manual echo this notion. While biological parents of children with special needs often face barriers to advocacy, foster parents in British Columbia (BC) may face these barriers in addition to ones imposed by the rules of the Ministry of Child and Family Development. For example, foster parents are typically not permitted to make decisions related to the education of the children in their care. In order to better understand the school experiences of children in foster care, it is important to understand the involvement and advocacy experiences of caregivers. Using IPA methodology, the experiences of school involvement and advocacy from the perspective of caregivers who foster children with special educational needs was explored. Participants in this study reported engaging in numerous school involvement activities, both at school and at home. In general, they reported feeling supported by schools, but they identified barriers to school involvement that are unique to the foster parent role. Further research on this topic is needed to understand how educators might better collaborate with foster parents.

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