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Domain Three

Family Involvement

Families are the most important people in the transition planning process.  Families have been there for their child from the beginning and have the most knowledge of the child's individual needs.  It makes sense to take advantage of the expertise and support of families when planning for the student's transition, whether it's school to school transition or transition to adulthood.  All youth with disabilities need support from their families.  What type of support they will need, will vary from one individual to another. 


In the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2001), (now The Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA of 2015) parental involvement was defined as "the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities" (Hirano & Rowe 2015).  The term parent refers to: a natural, adoptive, or foster parent of a child, a guardian, or an individual acting in the place of a natural or adoptive parent (including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative) with whom the child lives, or an individual who is legally responsible for the child's welfare. (Individuals With Disability Education Act [IDEA], 2004, sec. 602)

“One of the main components of IDEA (2004) is parent participation in decision making related to their child’s education.  IDEA reaffirms the importance of parent involvement in education by mandating procedures and offering a continuum of activities aimed at facilitating parental involvement” (Hirano & Rowe, 2015).  The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 states for District policy that a school district may receive funds under this part only if:

  • It conducts outreach to all parents and family members.

  • Implements programs, activities, and procedures to involve parents and family members in Title I programs.

  • Plans and implements such programs, activities, and procedures with meaningful consultation with parents of participating children (“Quick brief on family engagement in Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015,” 2016).

We have laws and policies in place for parent participation in both IDEA (2004) and ESSA (2015) yet, overall as Educators, we still are challenged to get parents involved.  Research also shows that when parents are involved in their child’s education in a meaningful way, their child’s post-school outcomes are better. In addition, “parent expectations are among the strongest predictors of employment and other post-school outcomes for young people with IDD” (Blustein, Carter, & McMillan, 2016).  Low expectations are often cited as significant barriers to academic and career achievement for students with disabilities.  When families stay involved in their child's education, the child is more likely to attend school regularly, maintain a positive attitude about school, earn higher grades, graduate from high school, and enroll in postsecondary programs.  Some parents believe high school is a time to foster independence and become less involved in their child's schooling.  Although encouraging independence is important, late adolescence is also a time when children learn skills for adult living from their parents.  Having high expectations for your child plays a critical role to success in employment and postsecondary education settings.  Some questions for families to consider when working with their child are:

  1. What will your child do after high school?

  2. Will your child go to college or a vocational school?

  3. Will your child get a competitive job or need supported employment?  

  4. Will your child live at home, independently, or in an Independent Living Center?

  5. Will your child need help from other agencies to carry out their plans?

  6. Do you need to consider guardianship or conservatorship options? (Must happen before your child turns 18)

Each of us have our own belief and value systems.  Sometimes they are not the same as our parents beliefs and value systems.  As a matter of fact they aren’t the same, yet we are charged to collaborate and communicate with each other.  In the article, A conceptual model for parent involvement in secondary special education, it states “School leaders often set the school climate and have the power to encourage or discourage school practices, including parent involvement” (Hirano & Rowe, 2015).  In addition to school leaders, teachers are an important factor in supporting parent involvement.  Based on my teaching experience, teachers can have a greater impact on parent involvement when they have built a relationship with the family.  It’s important to reach out to parents and make them feel valued. 














Understand and consider the impact of transition on the family

Facilitate involvement of families in the transition planning process

Identify specific family roles during transition planning

Identify family needs related to transition

Use school resources for supporting culturally and linguistically diverse families

Promote cultural responsiveness in transition planning

Develop relationships with families through shared problem solving

Provide information to families about transition, community agencies, and post-school options

Provide training to parents/families about transition topics

Understand different family beliefs, values, and practices

Explain the values and beliefs underlying transition to diverse families

Connect with cultural organization to ensure the involvement of diverse families

Community Advisory Council Training

Our Community Advisory Council is a group of parents and educators who meet monthly to discuss various topics related to Special Education.  It's an opportunity for parents to collaborate with our Special Education Administrators, Program Specialists, and Education Specialists.  One of the topics that is discussed is Secondary Transition and also school to school transition.  I've attached the Power Point presentation and the Transition  Manual as artifacts to show one of the ways in which we reach out to parents to collaborate with them, ways to help their child transition school to school and postsecondary.  Family involvement in transition planning is essential.

Competencies: 3.2, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.9

Parent University 

In our district we have Parent University.  During the 2017-2018 school year our district reached out to parents more than ever before.  We provided an interpreter at each meeting, refreshments, and children were allowed to accompany their parents.   We offered a series of trainings for parents.  The trainings were on the following topics:

  1.  My Child has an IEP - Now What?

  2.  Alternative Dispute Resolution 

  3.  Executive Functioning

  4.  Assessment and Beyond!

  5.  Teaching Prosocial Skills

  6.  Assistive Technology

  7.  Transition from Pre-K to Kindergarten

  8.  Transition from Elementary to Middle School

  9.  Transition from Middle School to High School

  10.  ADD/ADHD

  11.  Eating Disorders

  12.  Depression

  13.  Anxiety

  14.  Emotional Disturbance, and

  15.  Behavior

Participation from parents was mixed.  We learned that we need to send home a flyer, as well as make a phone call, send an e-mail, get teachers to talk about it, and use social media.  I presented at the Transition trainings.  I've attached the flyer for one of those trainings.  Our hope is to continue these trainings and have greater participation from parents.

Competencies: 3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.9, 3.11

Parent Transition Survey

The Parent Transition Survey that I use is the one by M. E. Morinigstar, I. Crawford, J. Scarff & M. Blue-Banning (Revised 2014).  I love having parents complete this survey because it provides an insight into the parents' needs and expectations for their child.  In addition, it gives me vital information that I can use to improve the transition planning for my student.  It also helps parents reflect on their expectations, concerns, thoughts, and choices for their child as they prepare for the child's transition to adult life.  I've included a completed survey for a student from a parent who had very different ideas about his child's capacity.  After doing several transition assessments, which led to the transition plan and annual IEP goals, we helped this parent realize that his child had dreams and goals that were very attainable.  He was encouraged and had new hope for his child's postsecondary outcomes.

Competencies: 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.7, 3.8, 3.10

Transition Handbook and Resource Guide

The artifact that I have included here is a Transition Handbook and Resource Guide for Families and Students that I completed for SPED 859.  This is one of the documents that I use the most.  I give it to parents, students, teachers, administrators, and others.  It's also one of the resources of which I am most proud.  In this resource guide, you will find the following resources:

  • Transition, and Transition Planning

  • Information on what the law says regarding Transition

  • Information on Age of Majority

  • Information on 504, ADA, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

  • Role of Families

  • Transition Assessment

  • Postsecondary goals and IEP goals

  • Course of Study, Summary of Performance

  • Graduation Requirements

  • College Entrance

  • Resources for Federal, State, and Local for: 

       A. Financial & Legal Supports and Services

       B. Extensive Supports and Developmental Disabilities

       C. Employment

       D. Independent Living and Advocacy

       E. Mental Health & Other Health-Related Needs

       F. Community Living and Participation

Competencies: 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 3.8, 3.10, 


Ankeny, E. M., Wilkins, J., & Spain, J. (2009). Mothers’ experiences of transition planning for their children with disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41(6), 28–36. doi:10.1177/004005990904100604

Barakat, Janet., Maiorca-Nunez, Jessica., “ Parent University, Transition” Community Advisory Council Training, Pomona Unified School District. 25 January 2018, Mendoza Center, Pomona, CA. Parent Transition Training

Blustein, C. L., Carter, E. W., & McMillan, E. D. (2016). The voices of parents: Post-high school expectations, priorities, and concerns for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 50(3), 164–177. doi: 10.1177/0022466916641381

ESSA (2015). Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, Pub. L. No. 114-95 §114 Stat. 1177 (2015-2016).

Fournier, L.L. (Revised 2014). Parent  transition survey. From Parent Transition Survey by M.E. Morningstar, I. Crawford, J. Scarff & M. Blue-Banning (1994).  Adapted with permission.

Green, G. (2014). Transition of culturally and linguistically diverse youth with disabilities: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 40, 239–245. doi:10.3233/JVR-140689

Hirano, K. A., & Rowe, D. A. (2015). A conceptual model for parent involvement in secondary special education. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 27(1), 43–53. doi:10.1177/1044207315583901

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 2004, 20U.S.C. §1400 et seq. (2004) (reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990).

National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). (n.d.). Retrieved from

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. §6301 et seq. (2002).

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