Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Susan M. Benner

Committee Members

Gina Barclay-McLaughlin, Mary Jane Moran, J. Amos Hatch


The purpose of this qualitative study was to gain an understanding of the experiences of parents as they transitioned their children from an early intervention program to an early childhood special education program. This study was conducted in a rural area of Virginia and participants included thirty parents from several school divisions. Four primary themes were derived through individual interviews and focus groups, and included: parents received information and services from programs; parents experienced barriers (lack of knowledge and experience with schools, differences in programs and services, communication issues among parties, dealing with own emotions, and fears for children); parents received benefits (emotional support from early intervention professionals, and developed rapport and new relationships with school personnel); and parents offered suggestions and advice for future transitions (improve communication and coordination, expand information and services for parents, advocate for “parent to parent’ networking, develop strength and coping skills, and consider options for preparing children for transitions).

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."