How is taking care of caregivers of children with disabilities related to academic achievement?

Author(s): BernardBrak , L. and Thomson, D. (2009)

Published In: Child Youth Care Forum, 38: 91-102

Study Aim/Purpose: This article summarizes re 38: 91102. search conducted using longitudinal national survey data to examine the association between receipt of respite care and academic achievement of children with disabilities.

Summary of Methods: The research was conducted using survey responses from three time points Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study This longitudinal national survey, supported by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs, is conducted with an ationally representative s (SEELS). ample of children who were eligible to receive or receiving special education services. The authors followed the 200062001 survey sample of 13,176 children ages 12. Respite care use was measured by parent responses to a SEELS question that asked whether they received respite care for the care of their child during the past 12 months. To measure the dependent variable of academic achievement, the authors used SEELs data on child achievement in reading and math (based on a battery of questions that comprise the revised, research edition of the Woodcock Johnson III).

Summary of Key Results: Across the three time points, an average of 8.5% of the parents received respite care services over the past year and respite care receipt was associated with better academic achievement outcomes. Specifically, the authors found a statistically significant positive association (at the 0.05 level) between receiving respite care services and academic achievement across time.

Study Limitations (as cited by the authors): The use of the SEELS data set provided a nationally representative sample of children with disabilities, but precluded the examination of parental satisfaction or caregiver stress as a mediator between receipt of respite care and children’s academic achievement because no data on those parental factors are collected in the survey. The authors also note that although they did not find any distinguishing characteristics between families that did and did not receive respite care services, there may be other important family characteristics data not collected by SEELS that are related to families receiving respite care services and thus mediating factors affecting children’s academic achievement.

Authors’ Discussion /Conclusions: The study’s results “add an important component to the body of literature examining the positive effects associated with receipt of respite care for parents of children with disabilities.” The authors emphasize that linking respite care services for parents of disabilities children with s to tangible beneficial child outcomes, such as academic achievement, is very important to communicate to policy makers to justify the allocation of resources for respite for this population.