Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Interdisciplinary Education

Major Professor

George Batsche, Ed.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kathy Bradley Klug, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kathleen Armstrong, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Raffaele-Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


Parent competency, Early intervention, Birth to three, Infants, Toddlers, Social support


Research has clearly demonstrated that variables associated with the family, child, and utilization of social supports relate to parent perceived competency. However, the research has failed to demonstrate which variable best predicts parent perceived competency. The primary goals of this study were to identify those variables that account for the most variability in parent perceived competency, to examine the relative effects of child characteristics on parental psychopathology, and to evaluate the moderating effects of social support on parent perceived competency based upon various parental characteristics. Participants for this survey study consisted of a convenience sample of 91 female primary caregivers of children (aged birth to three years) who received their initial evaluation at the University of South Florida Early Steps Program (ESP) clinic during a twelve-month data collection period. Inclusion criteria for this study required that participants were the female primary caregiver of the infant or toddler, all participants were primarily English speaking, and the infant or toddler had to be diagnosed with a medical and/or developmental diagnosis by an evaluator at the ESP clinic during the initial visit. Participants completed several questionnaires including assessments of female primary caregiver stress, depression, perceived sense of competency, utilization of social support, perception of child functioning, and perception of child behavior. Results of this study suggest that parent-reported stress and depression symptoms are significantly related to parent-perceived competency. Further, female primary caregivers whose child has medical and developmental disabilities report higher levels of stress and depressive symptoms compared to those whose child have developmental disabilities only. Similarly, female primary caregivers whose child has significant behavioral problems report higher stress and depression symptoms than those whose child does not have behavioral problems. Implications of these results as they relate to intervention development, limitations of this study, as well as future directions for research are also discussed.