Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Early childhood special education, IEP meetings, parent participation, preschool

Major Advisor

Mary Beth Bruder

Associate Advisor

George Sugai

Associate Advisor

Michael Coyne

Field of Study

Special Education


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires professionals on Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams to provide family members of children with disabilities every opportunity to participate in IEP meetings. Despite this requirement, findings from qualitative and survey research suggest that many parents have reported they are not treated as equal partners with professionals on their child’s IEP team, and that they are not always included in developing the goals and objectives for their child’s IEP. A few studies suggest that using specific practices could increase parent participation and influence professionals’ perceptions of how often parents participate during the meeting. To date, no data are available regarding whether professionals use practices to support parent participation during IEP meetings. This exploratory study surveyed 47 early childhood special educators in Connecticut regarding their practices, beliefs, training, and IEP meeting experiences to support the active participation of parents during their child’s IEP meeting. The majority of participants reported using practices to increase parent participation infrequently; yet 32% strongly agreed and 43% agreed that parent participation during IEP meetings leads to IEPs that more accurately represent the child’s needed services. Limitations include a small sample size, participant self-report, response bias, and the timing of data collection. Results from this exploratory survey are informative to future research, particularly to replicate using regional and national samples, which would have implications in designing future intervention studies, preparing personnel, and developing policy.