Parents' perspectives on a written survey of family needs
The requirement for a statement of family needs and strengths on the Individualized Family Service Plan has stimulated the development of a number of written surveys. Although most follow similar formats and are designed to facilitate identification of family needs in order to insure individualized family services, little research has investigated their utility. This article reports the results of a study to determine parents' perceptions of one such instrument, the Family Needs Survey (Bailey & Simeonsson, 1988a). A total of 229 parents (primarily mothers) or other caregivers of young children with handicaps in 10 states evaluated the instrument. Overall, parents felt that (a) the survey would help them tell their needs to professionals, (b) professionals would find the information useful, and (c) they were comfortable sharing the information requested. Only two respondents felt that parents should not be asked to share the information requested; most endorsed choosing to complete the questionnaire rather than being required to do so. Separate analyses for minority and low-income parents indicated that the survey was equally acceptable and appropriate for these parents. Mothers and fathers felt similarly about the instrument; when asked whether they preferred sharing the information through a survey or through discussion, 60% of the fathers and 40% of the mothers preferred a written survey. A number of suggestions were made for changing or improving the survey.