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Supporting Families of Students with Disabilities in Postsecondary Education

December 7, 2015 Publication

Over the past 40 years, evidence has been steadily accumulating that family involvement is one of the strongest predictors of children’s school success, and that families play pivotal roles in their children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development from birth through adolescence and beyond. The evidence has been particularly strong as it relates to the post-school success of youth with disabilities. Although the long-lasting effects that parent involvement variables have on the academic achievement of adolescents and young adults suggest that parent involvement during high school and beyond still re- mains an important source of guidance and support, there is a tendency among both parents and school personnel to misinterpret the emerging adult’s desire for autonomy as a developmental barrier to continued family involvement.

This brief is designed to assist faculty, staff and administrators in postsecondary education settings to better understand the value of engaging families of students with disabilities as partners in student success. Highlighting findings from a national online dialogue on the topic conducted in early 2015, the brief provides ideas for supporting families related to common need areas identified in that dialogue, and promotes the idea of family engagement as a sound strategy for student retention and academic achievement.

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