Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Special Education: Examining the Impact of Poverty on the Quality of Life of Families of Children with Disabilities

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Special Education: Examining the Impact of Poverty on the Quality of Life of Families of Children with Disabilities

Article excerpt

Abstract

Today, school personnel are facing many challenges in their efforts to serve diverse families and children with disabilities. Inadequate human and fiscal capacity, attitudinal and cultural barriers are among the many hurdles that must be surmounted for successful provision of related services. Decisions about who is educated versus who is habilitated or treated are often tied to classification systems that do not provide the necessary support for families and children with disabilities. The process by which parents become more autonomous as consumers of services for children with disabilities is complex. Educators cannot be a vehicle for parents until they are able to have a better understanding of the system within which these families exist and function.

This article examined the impact of poverty including cultural amnesia on the quality of life of families of children with disabilities. Additionally, the presentation will highlight (1) who are children with disabilities? (2) Family unit and cultural system, (3) impact of poverty stressors in life, identification, and assessment procedures for children with disabilities, (4) incidence of disabilities, international classification, and criteria for classification systems, and (5) conceptual professional collaboration model for related services.

"Empty pockets never held anyone back; only empty heads and empty hearts can do that" (1)

Introduction

Today, school personnel are facing many challenges in their efforts to serve diverse families and children with disabilities. Inadequate human and fiscal capacity, attitudinal and cultural barriers are among the many hurdles that must be surmounted for successful provision of related services. Decisions about who is educated versus who is habilitated or treated are often tied to classification systems that do not provide the necessary support for families and children with disabilities. The process by which parents become autonomous as consumers of services for children with disabilities is complex. Educators cannot be a vehicle for parents until they are able to have a better understanding of the system within which these families exist and function.

As of 1997, there were more than a fifth of children in America that lived in families with cash flow incomes way below the poverty level. (2) There have been a significant amount of current demographic studies that have found a growing relationship between poverty and risk for disability. (3) There has been a significant increase in the rate of childhood disability over the past fourteen years (4). The impact of the home, school, and family factors (e.g., income, parent education, language background, and cultural diversity) are found in many educational systems across the country. All of these factors contribute to teacher qualifications, student achievement, and class size. It is becoming increasingly evident that poverty has a compounding impact on the educational achievement of all children, including those with disabilities. Poverty is not a secondary topic in the field of special education, service delivery, and disability policy however, it is a challenge for educational systems to obtain results of productivity, accountability, independence, equal opportunity for all and diversity. Additionally, inclusion is complicated by a variety of complex factors associated with poverty as discussed in this article.

What is poverty?

Definition

The word poverty has been defined in several ways. In the current discussion poverty is defined as follows: a family, and every individual in it, is considered poor when the family's total income is less than the income threshold set by the US Census Bureau. (2) In the light of the above definition we conceptualize poverty as lack of opportunity, exposure, racial inequality, and constant struggle with social problems (e.g., educational failure, teen pregnancy, single parenting, incarceration, unemployment, inadequate housing, homelessness, substance abuse, AIDS etc. …

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