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The Development of a Measure of Readiness to Volunteer as a Peer Support Provider for an Organization Serving Parents of Children with Special Needs


The question of who is ready to serve as a help-giver reflects an unresolved question in the research on parents of children with disabilities. There is little consensus as to whether or not there are regular, predictable phases of adaptation to a child’s disability. The purpose of this research was to develop a measure of readiness to be trained as a supporting parent volunteer for the Parent to Parent USA Network (P2P). The measure is based on a theory of change developed from a qualitative interview study with P2P leaders and a review of the literature. The measure was hypothesized to be comprised of multiple dimensions corresponding to the categories of; giving back, successes, building capacities, building relationships, communication/ listening, positive thinking, future orientation and red flags. Following exploratory factor analyses, a three-factor solution was attained. The 17-item measure of readiness was comprised of factors named, Working with Others, Wellbeing and Skills and Navigation. The measure demonstrated strong internal consistency, and convergent validity was established by showing that the readiness scale displayed significant correlations with measures of empathy and depressive symptoms as hypothesized. A significant relationship was not established with posttraumatic growth, possibly due to a lack of power. Additionally, significant group differences on the readiness measure existed between parents who had and those who had not been trained to be peer supports and parents who had and had not received support from P2P. Implications, limitations and areas of future research are presented.

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