Parental Involvement in Programs for their Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

The issue

Parental involvement is a multidimensional construct defined as:
  • Active participation and interest in the child’s intervention program
  • Communicating and collaborating with the child’s intervention team
  • Involvement in decision-making regarding the child’s rehabilitation
  • Active role and responsibilities in child’s intervention at home.
  • Social participation and supportive relationships with other parents attending the intervention program.

Parental involvement promotes emotional, social, academic and language development among deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children and has been acknowledged as a vital component in early intervention. In addition, parental involvement enhances professionals’ understanding of children and their families’ needs, improves parent-professional communication, and increases the generalization of the children therapy goals across the intervention program and home.

Fathers and mothers have different ways of being involved and each has unique benefits for their child’s development. Although parental involvement is highly important, knowledge regarding the barriers and facilitators that impact parents’ involvement is scarce.

What we know

There are factors known to promote parents’ involvement in their children’s intervention program.
Personal factors:
  • Social support: Parents who feel that they have emotional and practical formal and informal support have been found to be more involved.
  • Self-efficacy: Parents who perceive that their actions have an effect on their child’s development tend to be more involved.
  • Coping: Parents, who experience low emotional distress, are more emotionally available to meet their child’s needs and to be involved in their children’s intervention. Likewise, parents who can accept their child’s hearing levels and positively appraise the situation, even with existing challenges, tend to be more involved.

Professional and context:

  • Family-centered care emphasizes a partnership between parents and service providers in establishing intervention goals.It focuses on family strengths, respects family diversity and values, and establishes open and collaborative communication with families. Professional practices and skills, encompass both relational and participatory components, require infrastructure to promote parental involvement.
  • The process of cochlear implantation elicits increased parental involvement in comparison to parents of children who use hearing aids.

Parenting role: Fathers and mothers

  • Mothers of DHH children report higher levels of involvement than fathers. Yet, fathers report similar levels of involvement as fathers of children without hearing loss. Perhaps mothers take on the main responsibilities with care giving and supporting the child, whereas fathers take on other roles in order to allow mothers’ availability in their child’s intervention. Hence, the nature of the involvement of each parent is different.
  • Fathers of DHH children desire to be involved in their child’s care. Yet, they feel left out by the educational team at the child’s intervention center, who are mostly females and who tend to regard the mother as the primary caretaker. In turn, fathers’ experiences might also impact their involvement. One of the challenges they perceive is the lack of flexibility to enable their participation in their child’s program.
  • Fathers’ and mothers’ resources influence each other involvement. For example, fathers’ perceived social support influences both their own involvement and their spouses’ involvement. Also, mothers’ self-efficacy influences both their own involvement and their spouse’s involvement.

What we don’t know

  • How to facilitate mothers’ and fathers’ involvement and its impact on the child’s development?
  • What are the reasons that some professionals are inviting and accommodating parental involvement whereas some are not?
  • What is the impact on a child’s development when there is a change over time in parental involvement?
  • What are the crucial dimensions of parental involvement and their specific contribution to parent-professional collaboration for child and parent outcomes?


Parental involvement is a vital component of any intervention program and cannot be overlooked. Involvement is a mutual process of parents and professionals. The responsibility of involvement is not solely on the parents. It is the professional responsibility as well to include the parent in the intervention, define expectations and roles of parents, and ensure a comfortable place for the parents in the program. It is important to establish good and supportive communication between both parents and the professionals that are working with the child. Promoting parents’ personal resources such as self-efficacy and social support that are known to relate to increased parental involvement may enhance involvement. Professionals can benefit greatly from training that focuses on how best to facilitate parental involvement.

Both fathers and mothers contribute in their own way and should be involved in the child’s program. Professionals need to approach each of the parents in a different way in order to involve them efficiently in the intervention program.

Posted on April 18, 2019 by
Devora Brand

Anat Zaidman-Zait

Tova Most
Tel Aviv University


Further reading