How well do parents of children with intellectual disabilities or learning disabilities think their communities support them?

Author: Don Matteson

Back in 2012 the Foundation’s Trustees and staff adopted a Results-Based Accountability (RBA) approach to understanding our grant making impact on the fields and communities we serve. As part of adopting RBA, we identified a total of 19 community-wide goals across the issue areas we support (if you’re curious, you can find them on page 14 of our strategic plan document).

RBA measures impact on both the project/organization/initiative level (performance measures) and at the community level (population indicators). We work with our grant applicants to develop performance measures for the grant projects we fund. We’re able to compile data from existing sources for many of our community indicators. As it turns out, community indicators for some of the issues we focus on — intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities in particular — are harder to come by than for others.

Our need to get community level data for these intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities led us to enlist Wilder Research to conduct community surveys and family surveys. Along with data from external sources, the results of our 2018 community survey are captured on the TowerDATA dashboard. The family surveys took longer to complete and analyze, so we’re just now sharing those results.

The reports linked below summarize the survey results from parents of children with intellectual disabilities, parents of children with learning disabilities, and youth with learning disabilities. Because we didn’t get as many responses to the family surveys as we’d hoped, we had to combine information from several communities to preserve the respondents’ anonymity. We ultimately combined parent responses by state (i.e., responses from parents living in the four Massachusetts counties and two New York counties the Foundation supports were combined by state) and all responses from youth with learning disabilities were combined, irrespective of geography.

We’re conducting a second round of these surveys so that we’re able to start charting trends. We recently closed our community survey, but are still recruiting for the family survey through the end of February 2020.

Results from the Tower Foundation’s 2018 Family Surveys

If you have any questions about the surveys, the reports, or RBA, please contact Don Matteson, Chief Program Officer.