Family-School Partnership (FSP) is an essential component of effective school social work practice. Previous research shows that positive FSP improves the well-being of children and families (Goldman & Burke, 2019; Rispoli et al., 2019). FSP has been incorporated into school-based practices to improve outcomes for both children and families (e.g., social skills, behavior, and academic outcome of children; parental stress and depression, parenting efficacy). In the US, school social work also plays a central role in serving children with Individualized Educational Plans (IEP), including children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. Despite this, little attention has been given to how to build FSP for children affected by ASD. The global prevalence of ASD is 1% (Zeidan et al., 2022). Given the complexity of ASD symptoms, and related education and parenting challenges, the FSP can be crucial to fostering better outcomes for children with ASD (National Research Council, 2001). The lack of ASD-specific evidence base regarding FSP and limited ASD-targeted interventions hampers the ability of school social workers to work toward effective FSPs with this population. The present scoping review aimed to synthesize existing studies investigating FSP specifically for children with ASD to encourage further research that can be translated into social work practice with children with ASD and their families around the world.
A scoping review method was chosen because there was a need to include both what is known about FSP and outcomes for the population as well as any evidence for specific interventions. The current review identified global FSP studies within the ASD population from 2010 to 2022 by a comprehensive search of 11 academic databases through EBSCO and ERIC for peer-reviewed English research. Keywords used for the search included synonyms of 1) family and parent, 2) school, 3) Autism Spectrum Disorder, and 4) partnership. Two researchers independently conducted the abstract review and screening. The inclusion criteria were 1) concerned children with ASD, 2) involved both family and school and emphasized the partnerships 3) studies of stakeholders' self-reported perspectives or satisfactions regarding FSP were excluded.
22 studies met inclusion criteria. Six studies targeted on global area. Six studies evaluated interventions of which one adopted RCT design. Nearly half of the included studies investigated the effects of FSP (n=10). The preliminary results suggested that higher levels of parental school involvement and better parent-teacher communication contributed to a more positive IEP and post-school goal attainment, increased social skills, and improved behaviors of children with ASD.
Existing intervention research regarding FSP for children with ASD were limited by small sample size and low study rigor. Meanwhile, more research attention is needed for the measurement of FSP. The current review also provided important implications for the school social work practice regarding designing FSP intervention for families affected by children’s ASD and involving FSP components in wilder range of interventions to facilitate better child and family outcomes.