Research at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln
loading the 2013-2014 Report
Kids with emotional and behavioral disorders are more likely to miss school, fail classes and drop out than students with other disabilities.
UNL researchers are evaluating a new program that uses parent-to-parent support to get families the help they need to keep kids in school.
With a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, the team is assessing the Parent Connectors intervention to determine its effectiveness and viability on a broader scale. University of South Florida researchers developed this program.
The program connects participants with other parents who have guided their own special-needs children through the middle school years. The support parents are trained and, for one year, provide support though weekly phone calls to encourage participants to engage in their children’s education and to access services.
“Some programs are really expensive and require extensive training. This program is relatively easy to disseminate and to implement in the school districts.”
UNL’s evaluation team, led by Kristin Duppong Hurley, research associate professor of special education and communication disorders, randomly assigned participants from the Lincoln, Neb., area to either take part in Parent Connectors or receive services as usual. This year, they expanded the study to include several Omaha area suburban school districts.
By comparing the two groups, the researchers will determine the program’s effect on parental engagement and benefits to children, including whether they miss less school or receive fewer suspensions. Better attendance and behavior at school should translate into academic improvement later.
Although results aren’t in yet, the program has been well received by families and schools, Duppong Hurley said, adding that it has the potential to be implemented nationally. “Some programs are really expensive and require extensive training. This program is relatively easy to disseminate and to implement in the school districts.”
Duppong Hurley collaborates with colleagues Michael Epstein, William E. Barkley Professor of Special Education and Communication Disorders, and Alex Trout, research associate professor of special education and communication disorders, in UNL’s Center for Child and Family Well Being.
Pictured above: Kristin Duppong Hurley