Research Study

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues afflicting youth in Canada. Yet, little is known about what schools do to help children with anxiety. Parents are also an essential part of their children’s lives and play a crucial role in their education. To understand parents perceptions of their children’s supports, this study asks about parents’ experiences with their child’s education plan.

Individual education plans have different names in different provinces. Generally, an Individual Education Plan (also known as an IEP) is a document that outlines the supports that a child with special needs can receive to improve their education. These supports might include more time on assignments, a quiet room to write tests, permission to leave the classroom, and more. If your child receives support for anxiety in school, but you are not sure if it is an individual education plan, feel free to fill out the survey anyway!

Title of Project Parent perceptions of their children’s Individual Education Plans for anxiety
Objectives
  • Identify areas of success with the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process for children with anxiety.
  • Identify improvement that would increase parental satisfaction with IEPs
Research Questions
  • For parents of children with IEPs for anxiety, what are their experience and perspectives of their child’s IEP process?
  • What factors influence parents’ perceptions and experiences of the IEP process?
  • What recommendations do parents suggest for the improvement of their children’s IEP process?
Characteristics of the Participants Parents of children with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for anxiety
Potential Risks Survey questions will ask parents about their anxiety and stress, as well as about their child’s disability which may be distressing. Questions may also prompt memories of upsetting interactions with IEP teams. Links to mental health resources are provided at the end of the survey if parents are feeling distress because of the survey. However, we do not expect this amount of discomfort or distress arising among our participants.
End date 30/06/22
Time Required to Take the Survey The survey will take less than 30 minutes to complete
Survey Link Click here to participate in the study (ENG)

Click here to participate in the study (FR)

Contact Riley Morrell

MSc Student, School and Applied Child Psychology

University of Calgary

[email protected]

Background

Educators are becoming increasingly concerned about the mental health of students and how to support them. It is estimated that 1 in 20 children in Canada currently suffers from mental health issues. In particular, anxiety is the most common impairment of day-to-day functioning in youth aged 5 to 17 years old. When a student shows severe anxiety concerns, schools are required to create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to lessen the impact on education. IEPs are developed by school personnel in collaboration with parents to outline individual services, accommodations, and student learning goals to support functioning in the classroom.

Most provinces require that every effort be made to involve parents in IEP development since parent involvement in their child’s education has been linked to positive outcomes in academic achievement, attendance, and high school completion. For children with disabilities – such as anxiety – parent involvement is additionally linked to post-secondary attendance and future employment. Well designed and implemented IEPs benefit student learning and parent involvement. However, research in the U.S. has found a range of parent experiences, with some parents identifying barriers to meaningfully participating in IEP meetings and frustrations with how IEPs are implemented.

There are three main gaps in knowledge that this study intends to fill. First, little is known about which supports are being used with children with anxiety. Second, there is almost no research on parents’ perspectives of the IEP process in Canada. While IEPs in Canada are similar to IEPs in the U.S., there are differences in the responsibilities and guidelines given to IEP team members. Canadian IEPs are also outlined on a province-by-province basis, while IEPs in the U.S.  are coordinated at a federal level. Third, IEP research has primarily focused on less common, more severe disabilities (such as autism or intellectual disability) but has neglected the students with mental health concerns. Anxiety is the most common mental health issue impacting Canadian youth, yet no studies have specifically investigated parents’ experiences of IEPs for anxiety.

This study aims to understand how Canadian parents of students with IEPs for anxiety view the IEP process. The information collected could be used by educators to improve the IEP process and improve parent satisfaction and involvement. Policymakers could also use the study results at a provincial level to consider the parent’s perspectives while updating IEP policy.