Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Robyne Elder

Second Advisor

Dr. Carrie Schwierjohn

Third Advisor

Dr. Sherrie Wisdom


When a young person is diagnosed with a chronic illness, it impacts every phase of the person’s life. During the stages of childhood and adolescence, school is the central socialization site for the student’s developmental and personal identity. That is why it is difficult to replace school as one of the maturing spaces for young people’s transition to adulthood. Chronic illness interrupts the normative life process for an extended period or permanently.

Engaged parents, legal and social advocacy, innovative medical research, public policy, educational workshops, and finally, the consortium of family, health, medical, educational and community support have been advocates for the chronically ill student. All of these factors have compelled the health and educational establishments to consider the serious nature of the chronically ill student. However, while the chronically ill student has been recognized in the school system, gaining equitable resources and dealing with the educational life of these students has remained a challenge. Absenteeism, academic and cognitive difficulty, educators’ limited professional knowledge and understanding, social and personal dislocation, and a sense of isolation characterize and affect the lives of many of these students.

Interviews and focus groups were conducted with a limited number of parents/guardians and health professionals to consider the parental/guardian perspective as a major contributor to ascertaining the most effective transitional school options for chronically ill students. The results provided four major concerns from both parents/guardians and health professionals:

1. The lack of communication with the major parties and/or the breakdown of communications among the major parties 2. A care team that is needed to be functional and effective that includes several entities, hospital, school, family and community 3. Better informed entities; health professionals need to do a better job in conjunction with parents/guardians in getting medical and health information to teachers and other educators 4. The experience of the chronically ill student and the care has unique but universal features.

The purpose of the study was to ascertain and provide effective and adaptable transitional strategies for the unique needs of the chronically ill student.


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