Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work

First Advisor

Stephen French Gilson


Part H [recently reauthorized as Part C] of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates the application of family-centered practice principles to early intervention services. There has been a considerable amount of literature published in early intervention journals related to family and professional relationships in early intervention and its connection to family-centered care in early intervention services. There is very little literature, however, that examined the implementation of family-centered principles from a perspective that transcended the relationship between families and early intervention providers.

This inquiry was a constructivist policy analysis of the implementation of the family-centered intent of Part H of IDEA in one Local Interagency Coordinating Council (LICC) in Virginia. Perspectives about the implementation of the family-centered intent of Part H were assessed through in-depth interviews with several stakeholder groups, including families receiving Part H early intervention services, families who were never able to access services, members of the LICC, professionals from center-based programs, professionals from home-based programs, and professionals from hospital-based programs. While data were primarily collected via in-depth interviews with participants from each stakeholder group, the inquirer also observed five LICC meetings. Document analyses and observations of LICC meetings also were used for triangulation of incoming data. Twenty-two family participants were sampled that represented variation according to socio-economic status. Twenty professional participants were sampled who represented a range of professional disciplines.

Findings from this inquiry highlight some issues regarding implementation of a broad federal policy (i.e.,Part H of IDEA) at the local level. The intent of Part H was to mandate the construction of state level service delivery systems, local service delivery systems, and suggested program and professional practices for the early intervention field. Very little guidance, however, was provided to states on how to construct their systems and even less was provided on developing local early intervention service delivery systems. Few financial resources were committed for the construction of these state and local service delivery systems adding additional complications. Specifically, the legislation provided no financial support for new early intervention programs; instead, the intent was for states and local service delivery systems to coordinate already existing providers using existing funds.

There are many policy and practice implications resulting from this inquiry. First, there are implications for federal, state, and local early intervention policy. Second, there are implications for early intervention practice. Third, there are implications for empowerment of families who have children receiving early intervention services. Fourth, there are implications for social work practice in the field of early intervention. Finally, there are implications for future research related to family-centered service delivery.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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