Organizational Characteristics and Issues Affecting the Longevity of Self-Help Groups for Parents of Children with Special Needs
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In this article, the organizational characteristics and issues affecting the maintenance of nine self-help groups for parents of children with special needs are discussed. Qualitative data were collected through interviews with 20 parents and observation of six group meetings. For continued existence, groups must deal with the challenges of encouraging new leaders, attracting new members, obtaining funds or assistance to support their activities, and meeting the changing needs of members. Important organizational characteristics associated with longevity are committed and effective leadership, community connections that help provide needed funds or practical assistance, and the willingness of group members to change activities to meet changing needs. This information can be used by parents and service providers to plan new groups, recruit group members, and ensure the effective functioning of groups as they change over time.
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