Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2021

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Shirley Johnson


Family Partnerships, Collaboration, Support Groups, Special Education, Empowerment



According to a recent United Nations report, “the COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and all continents. Closures of schools and other learning spaces have impacted 94 percent of the world’s student population, up to 99 percent in low and lower-middle-income countries” (United Nations Policy Brief, 2020). The closing of schools and distance learning has disrupted the communication and collaboration between families and school staff in our local communities, causing damage to parent and teacher partnerships. The need is great to re-establish connections between schools and families, especially those that are marginalized, such as special education students (Parent-Teacher Partnerships, 2019).

Learning disrupted. Break in communication. Isolation. These are not phrases or terms that project a collaborative environment that is essential between schools and families for student success according to the CEC (2017). Compounded by the disruption of learning, the lack of communication, and the feelings of isolation with the needs of a student identified with a disability. School entities begin to feel more and more impersonal and daunting. Parents/guardians with a student identified with disabilities may not have the connections or feel empowered to know how to help their child be successful at home or in school. They may not feel able to advocate with and for their child.

There is empirical evidence to support that collaboration and empowerment of parents/ guardians and families in the educational process and assisting in the formation of effective partnerships with the school team can promote belongingness, advocacy, and successful outcomes throughout a student’s educational journey. Using current research and personal experience in planning and implementing family/stakeholder collaborative events, “In This Together” is a project focused on understanding the research behind the best practice of collaboration and building the collaborative programming to promote collaboration, partnership, empowerment, and equity between all educational stakeholders.

Keywords: Family Partnerships, Collaboration, Support Group, Special Education, Empowerment



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