Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Education Program


Lauren Yoshizawa

Second Advisor

Veronica Romero


The provision of special education services to special needs students is largely upheld by federal and state policies and regulations, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) which ensures that children with disabilities have the opportunity to access a free appropriate public education (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004). However, marginalized families of low-income and linguistically diverse backgrounds continue to face barriers and challenges to effectively participate in their child’s education and secure the necessary and appropriate services for their child. Family Empowerment Centers on Disability (FECs) in California provide a policy solution to assist families navigate the special education system (SPED) and ensure that their child receives the appropriate and necessary resources and services through family empowerment. Family empowerment is a continual and iterative process through which families ultimately take effective action on behalf of their child. Within a social ecological model families, institutions (i.e., FECs), and policy reciprocally influence each other and either create or hinder opportunities for the cultivation of family empowerment. Through online surveys and interviews with an FEC and the families they serve, the current study reveals that FECs create opportunities for families to engage in the family empowerment process and thus, provide an effective policy solution to assist families in navigating the special education and services system and advocating for their children. California Assembly Bill 126 should be passed as it aims to expand and improve upon the work of FECs throughout California.


Family Empowerment, Special Education, Family Empowerment Center on Disability (FEC), Family/Parent Supports, California