Date Published: Jun 1, 2016
Journal of Disability Policy Studies
Shepherd, K.G. & Kervick, C.T.
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Parent involvement and leadership have evolved over time and carry different meanings within various educational contexts in the United States. In special education, parent involvement includes the roles that parents of children with disabilities play in the development of their children’s Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), as well as in leadership and policy development and evaluation. In spite of the purported benefits of parent leadership in educational planning and policy, little research has been conducted on models that intentionally build critical skills and leadership opportunities among parents of children with disabilities. This article describes results associated with a leadership development project known as “Parents as Collaborative Leaders” (PACL) in which parents from across the United States participated in a leadership curriculum and individualized internship experiences at the local, state, and national levels. Participants reported a number of positive outcomes, including skills and experiences gained through curriculum and internship experiences, increased participation in leadership and policy activities, increased networking and relationships, and a sense of leading for a larger purpose. The article describes the development and implementation of the PACL model, outcomes associated with a subset of participants, and implications for policy and practice. [article abstract]