Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

McAllister, Carolyn


From the day their child is diagnosed, parents of children with special needs are traveling on a journey of extremes. The stress parents experience can lead down many paths filled with stress, worries, and concerns as their constant companion. These conditions exert extreme pressure on parents and can lead to life-altering changes. Parents who are resilient and able to cope with continuous change will ultimately weave through the unknown to a place of positive growth known as post-traumatic growth. The research project was based on qualitative data obtained from interviews with eleven parents of children with special needs.

One of the many service professionals these parents interact with on a regular basis is service coordinators. Service coordinators know many personal details related to each family and are in a position to support parents positively to encourage post-traumatic growth. Separate interviews were conducted with nine service coordinators to collect qualitative data for this project.

The researcher also conducted an analysis of peer-reviewed research articles and discovered the key factor related to parent’s resilience is encouraging social support provided by peer parents. This increases their resilience and is a critical factor towards achieving positive post-traumatic growth.

During research analysis, the researcher found Family-Centered Care to be the most promising method for service coordinators to interact with families and increase the factors of resilience in parents. The current focus at Regional Centers is person-centered thinking. While this practice is beneficial for the clients served, it lacks the holistic consideration of the client and their family together. Future practice recommendations for service coordinators would include policy changes within the Regional Centers to focus on parent’s strengths to discern the supports required to provide the highest quality of care for their children. Training for service coordinators to promote resilience and increase post-traumatic growth in parents would provide additional support in a parent’s life. Support is the key factor in supporting post-traumatic growth. When parents feel supported, they can achieve more and join in stronger collaboration with service coordinators.