Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Paul W. Jones

Second Committee Member

Lori Olafson

Third Committee Member

Scott Loe

Fourth Committee Member

Brad Donohue

Number of Pages



Children with emotional and behavioral disorders often present with significant impairments in social, emotional, and academic functioning. For those with the most severe impairments, hospitalization is an essential intervention. Prior to releasing children from the hospital, a discharge plan is typically created in order to facilitate successful transition from the hospital setting. Ideally, these plans set the stage for post-hospitalization supports by outlining a course of action for caregivers and coordinating services, with the ultimate goal of helping children maintain gains and reducing recidivism. Research suggests that current practices do not incorporate educational needs and supports into discharge plans. Although there is literature on what constitutes good discharge planning practices, there is little research focusing specifically on discharge planning practices for youth. As such, it is unclear to what extent children's discharge plans are not only consistent with effective discharge planning practices, but also whether educational needs and supports are included.

The current study provides an exploration of this problem from the perspectives of caregivers. Moreover, it was suspected that caregivers were primarily responsible for facilitating hospital to school transitions. This is problematic because caregivers likely experience barriers during this process, including receiving inadequate hospital discharge plans, which are thought to have a negative impact on their ability to effectively facilitate transition and advocate for their child's needs.

The purpose of this study was to explore caregiver experiences with hospital to school transitions, including ways in which hospitals assist in identifying the child's critical needs and encouraging maintenance of skills. This study also explored caregiver needs at the time of discharge, caregiver knowledge of the educational system, and transition barriers and facilitating factors.

Results of this multiple case study suggested that caregivers were unsatisfied with their hospital experiences because they were provided with very little helpful information. As a result, caregiver and child needs were often left unmet. Caregivers did not have adequate knowledge of the educational system and compounding this problem, they experienced several other barriers to effective transition. Results were used to devise recommendations for policy and practice in the hospital and school settings.


Case study; Child; Children – Hospital care; Discharge plan; Mentally ill children; Psychiatric hospitals – Admission and discharge; Psychiatric hospitalization; School mental health; School re-entry; Schools


Child Psychology | Educational Psychology | Psychology | Special Education and Teaching

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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