Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Heidi E. Stolz

Committee Members

Brian K. Barber, Vey M. Nordquist, John Orme

Abstract

Early intervention programs across the United States use a service delivery model that is strengths-based and family-centered. The purpose of this study was to examine how certain strengths among mothers and fathers of children receiving early-intervention services are related to parental involvement. I used the actor-partner interdependence model (APIM) with structural equation modeling to examine the actor (intrapersonal) and partner (interpersonal) effects of parenting self-efficacy, parental role salience, and couple relationship quality on parental involvement. The data used in these analyses were taken from a state-wide project which obtained reports from 131 mother-father dyads whose children were enrolled in a state-run early intervention system. Self-report questionnaires were distributed to families by their early intervention service coordinators and returned by mail. In the single-variable APIMs, actor effect pathways for mothers and fathers revealed significant effects of parenting self-efficacy and parental role salience on parental involvement, but not from couple relationship quality. These findings indicate that parental involvement among mothers and fathers of young children with disabilities is enhanced when mothers and fathers independently feel empowered in their parenting role and feel a strong sense of identity from their parenting role. Partner effects were found from mother couple relationship quality onto father involvement, but mother involvement was not predicted by any of the father characteristics. This partner effect reveals that levels of father involvement with young children with disabilities depend somewhat on mothers’ satisfaction with the couple relationship, yet mother involvement remains uninfluenced by the father characteristics. In a final APIM which included all predictor variables, father involvement was predicted by father parenting self-efficacy, father role salience, and mother and father couple relationship quality, and mother involvement was predicted by mother parenting self-efficacy. Implications for research and practice are discussed regarding the measurement of parental involvement, the advantage of analytic approaches which account for family interdependence, and the importance of empowering families of young children with disabilities.

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