First Advisor

Rude, Harvey

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Date Created



To truly appreciate and address the strengths and needs of children with disabilities, parents and professionals must be able to work collaboratively within longterm partnerships. Challenging the creation of parent and professional partnerships is a lack of common understanding or agreement upon what relationship qualities facilitate or deter from their development and preservation. This study investigated what relationship qualities are considered necessary according to a select group of professionals to foster collaborative partnerships between professionals and parents as well as to improve their handling of conflict. The study found that relationship qualities such as communication, respect, honesty, trust, flexibility, and confidence were believed essential by professionals for collaborative partnerships to exist. In addition, the professionals attributed these qualities as being critical for conflict prevention. This study also explored expectations professionals held for parents, relationship-building strategies, conflict prevention strategies, and conflict-resolution strategies. The study found that the relationship qualities identified as important for collaborative partnerships and conflict prevention were reflected within the strategies for relationship-building and addressing conflict. However, the relationship qualities for conflict resolution were less apparent within the strategies identified for conflict resolution. This study provides a beginning for parents and professionals to explore the values they bring to partnerships and whether they are demonstrating congruency between their values and actions. The professionals in this study believed that in collaborative partnerships, parents and professionals engage in open and honest communication, take responsibility to work together as a team across home and school environments, share common goals, and engage in mutual childcentered decision-making in order to move children forward and create positive student outcomes. Additional research is still needed to support the findings of this study and to gain the perspectives of parents and professionals representing different cultures and regions and other local systems of special education. Future research should continue to strive for a balance between the perspectives of parents and professionals and to focus on creating additional clarity regarding the meanings of mutually agreed upon relationship qualities as well as factors that indicate the presence of these factors.

Abstract Format



Conflict Contributors; Conflict Prevention; Conflict Resolution; Parent and Professional Partnerships; Relationship Building; Relationship Qualities; Special Education


205 pages

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