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Validating Family-Centeredness in Early Intervention Evaluation Reports

Farrell, Anne F. PhD

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0b013e3181b8b1db

This Internet-based study involved experimental manipulation of family-centeredness in written early intervention evaluation reports and employed a 3 × 4-vignette factorial design with 1 participant variable (role: parent, professional, parent-professional) and 1 randomly assigned independent variable (level of family-centeredness in report passages). Dependent variables included ratings of the report's acceptability, accessibility, and overall family-centeredness and participants' estimates of the functioning of the child depicted. Results included main effects for pattern and role, with no interactions. Report passages higher in family-centered content were associated with higher ratings than passages low in family-centeredness content. Parents rated reports as more accessible and acceptable than did professionals and parent-professionals. Role and family-centeredness of passage also influenced participant estimations of child functioning. Parents generally viewed the child depicted as higher functioning than did professionals, especially when one of their children had significant impairment. Low in family-centeredness passages were associated with presumptions of greater functional impairment. This report makes an empirical connection between written portrayals of children and the impressions they create in readers' minds. Such impressions may play a role in affecting family optimism and in determining how team members approach planning and intervention. Implications for practice, training, and future research are discussed.

Department of Human Development & Family Studies, University of Connecticut, Stamford; and A. J. Pappanikou Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Farmington, Connecticut.

Corresponding Author: Anne F. Farrell, PhD, University of Connecticut, Stamford, One University Place, Stamford, CT 06901 (

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are solely those of the investigator and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The author acknowledges the contributions of Ms Colleen Deasy and Ms Mamta Saxena, and the support of Dr JoAnn Robinson, in the completion of this study. In addition, the author thanks the following individuals and entities: The Association of University Centers on Disabilities, CT DDS and Birth to Three Program, The Federation for Children with Special Needs, NYS Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, Parent to Parent of NYS, The CT Family Support Council, and Ms. Barbara Levitz. This product benefited significantly from the input of Dr Mary Beth Bruder and 2 anonymous reviewers.

The study described in this article was supported in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal Child Health Bureau Leadership in Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities project (T73MC11046).

©2009Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.