Valued Member or Tolerated Participant: Parents' Experiences in Inclusive Early Childhood Settings

Leslie C. Soodak, Elizabeth J. Erwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The present qualitative investigation explored the perspectives of parents of young children with severe disabilities to understand the factors that shape their participation in their child's inclusive education. Ten parents of children in early childhood inclusive settings were interviewed. A conceptual framework of factors that influence parent participation was developed based on the themes that emerged from the data. Findings indicated that parent participation is influenced by a number of factors, including the school's beliefs about inclusion, receptivity to parents, and willingness to change. Parent-professional partnerships were facilitated by trust, shared philosophies about children and schooling, and open communication. Achieving effective parent-professional partnerships in inclusive settings appears to be a complex process that involves commitment and understanding. Most importantly, the findings suggest that meaningful participation for children as well as parents is an important and necessary component of inclusive education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-41
Number of pages13
JournalResearch and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2000


  • early childhood
  • inclusive education
  • parent participation


Dive into the research topics of 'Valued Member or Tolerated Participant: Parents' Experiences in Inclusive Early Childhood Settings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this