Developmental transitions, such as those from early intervention to preschool services, or from school-based support to more independent young adulthood, can be stressful and disruptive for the families of children with special needs.

However, we don’t know a lot about the needs of families in which parents or primary caregivers are working outside of the home when these transitions are happening.

Therefore, the purpose of this study is to identify a) the needs of working parents of children with special needs during developmental transitions, and b) the impact that these transitions have on work-life balance.

In addition, as part of our focus is on parents who are physician scientists and have children with special needs. Prior research suggests that physician scientists with substantial caregiving demands at home are at particular risk of leaving academic research.

Who is doing the study?

This study is being conducted by faculty and professionals in the UNC School of Medicine and the UNC School of Social Work. Specifically, the partners in this research are the Funds to Retain Clinician Scientists (FRCS) program and the North Carolina Family Support Program. The study is being funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by expedited review (study #17-2854).

Eligibility & Participation

You may be eligible for this study if you are the working parent of a child or adolescent who has transitioned within the past two years either

  • From Early Intervention services (for those ages 0-3) to public school preschool services (for those ages 3-5)


  • From school-based services (up to age 22) to more independent young adulthood (this may include one or more of the following: working, going to college or other educational setting, living on one’s own, living at home but with greater level of independence and responsibility, and so on.)

If you participate in the study, you will:

  1. Engage in a 1 ½ hour group discussion (focus group) with other parents whose children have gone through the same transition as your child.
  2. Complete a questionnaire at home.

The focus group meeting will be scheduled at a time and place that is as convenient to you as possible, based on feedback from all parents who sign up to be part of the group.  Participating parents will receive a $25 gift card and mileage reimbursement. Refreshments will be provided at all focus group meetings.

If you’re interested in participating and have not already, please click here to take our 5-minute online screening survey! All information will be kept confidential.

Contact Information

For more information, email Hafsah.