Perhaps the best and easiest way to manage conflict is to prevent it in the first place. Increasing the capacity of systems and individuals to meaningfully collaborate and problem-solve offers a proactive strategy for conflict management. Here we review leading preventative alternatives.
This process recognizes that parents are a valuable source of assistance to other parents. There are many different approaches to offering a parent-to-parent assistance program, including strategies that emphasize parent-professional collaboration, dispute prevention, and conflict resolution. Some of these innovative practices occur at the regional service area, or district level, and others are state-wide. Some programs train parents of children with disabilities to support other family members through information, technical assistance and referral activities, while other programs train parents to accompany family members to IEP meetings or mediation. State-sponsored practices typically involve employment of a parent to serve as a resource person, liaison between family and school, neutral facilitator or ombudsperson.
Case managers generally assist in remedying miscommunication and misinterpretation of the law. Along with facilitating family-school communication and assisting in the understanding of special education law, case managers clarify issues and facilitate problem-solving between teachers, administrators, service providers and family members.
This process involves intervening with parents and schools by telephone as soon as a request for assistance has been made. The inquiry by the parent is viewed as an opportunity for the office to help clarify the problem, identify informal ways of addressing the matter, and proceed with resolving the situation when appropriate. In some states, this is a function of the department’s intake procedures; in other states, it is a more formal process where callers who articulate a concern or problem are referred.