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School Response to Families with Children with Cancer


In this qualitative study, in-depth interviews were conducted with 17 sets of parents who have children with cancer. Measures were used to assess how schools may or may not have supported these families during this time.

For the case studies, data were collected using parent demographic surveys, parent interviews, child interviews, and principal and educator surveys. Likert scales were included in surveys given to parents and teachers. When appropriate, information from one data source was used to substantiate and expand upon information provided by another.

In this study, the research data was examined using two complementing models, Bronfenbrenner's (Bronfenbrenner, 1994) bioecological model and McCubbin and Patterson's (1983) Double ABCX model. Both models examine the effects of "over an extended period of time" (Bronfenbrenner, 2001). The bioecological model emphasizes family interactions amongst themselves and other systems, including schools. It examines the interplay between three systems, the family, hospital, and school and how these interactions affect the family and the child with cancer.

McCubbin and Patterson's (1983) Double ABCX model of families examines the impact of the original stressor on a family according to a pile up of stressors, the family's perception of resources, and their management of these resources and stressors. The philosophy of moral pedagogy, where the virtues relative to the process of teaching are congruent with the personal values of the teacher, further serves to assess the relationship between the school and the family (Sockett, 1993). Noddings'(1992) ethic of care is taken into consideration when examining the school-parent relationship in terms of moral pedagogy. Noddings defines caring as a connection or encounter between two human beings. Within the school setting, the student and his/her family have had experiences which may or may not include moral pedagogy. The major goal of this study was to assess whether schools are a stressor or resource for families using the Double ABCX and the bioecological models. .Results generated ideas about how the educational system can work more effectively with families.

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