Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Family Science and Human Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Sara Goldstein

Committee Member

Brad van Eeden-Moorefield

Committee Member

Chih-Yuan Lee

Committee Member

Michele Havens


Grounded in Resilience Theory (Masten et al., 1990; Masten, 2001; Walsh, 1996; Walsh, 2002; Walsh 2003a, Walsh 2003b) with a specific focus on parental resilience (Gavidia-Payne et al., 2015), this qualitative phenomenological study explored the lived experiences of low-income single parent families (FASP) with at least one adolescent aged 11 through 21 who was enrolled in special education classes in school and was engaging in risk behaviors. Two central research questions were addressed. The first focused on the lived experiences of FASP and the second focused on their perspectives on how schools can better support these families. Data for this study were collected through 6 face-to-face, in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Three major themes emerged from their experiences: Life adjustment, The child is the priority, and Perseverance revealing their experience to be one of resilience. Participants also shared and provided insight on their perspectives regarding how schools can better support families such as theirs. Findings revealed that school systems are not collaborating with parents as schools should. Findings highlight the need for further research with this population in the context of resilience. Suggestions for schools and communities working with such families are discussed.

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