Explorations of Family-school Relationships Regarding Children with RAD and/or EBD: A Review of Relevant Literature from 1995-2016

Christa Wenger*, Sara Lyn Crump, Jessica LaFollette, Megan Kurtz
University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri, USA

© 2017 Wenger et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri, USA, Tel: 417-224-2179; Emails:;



School and family interactions that include a focus on students from all backgrounds and ability levels are crucial for promoting students’ social, academic, and behavioral success. Specifically, it is important that educators and other stakeholders focus on developing effective interactions with the families of students who have Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD) or Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).


The aim of this study is to gain an understanding of the relationships between schools and the families of students with EBD or RAD as represented in published research. Another goal of this study is to understand whether these relationships have changed over time (1995-present).


This investigation sought to find empirical studies concerning relationships between schools and the families of students with EBD or RAD. The researchers divided the 1995-2016 time period into five- to-six-year increments and then searched for qualitative articles using agreed upon search terms. The authors used mainly the ERIC database from which to conduct their initial search.


There were 11 qualitative studies reviewed for this article. The articles were summarized and discussed according to two categories: “Families of Children with RAD” and “Families of Children with EBD.” Among these studies, three themes emerged in response to the research question: “The Importance of Caregivers,” “Family and School Communication,” and “Support Systems and Interventions.” These themes revealed critical ideologies regarding persons diagnosed with RAD or EBD and their family-school partnerships. Further, this review of literature indicates qualitative studies involving students with RAD or EBD in connection with family-school ties are limited, although a significant amount of literature exists regarding school-family ties.


More qualitative studies are needed involving students with RAD and/or EBD and the connection to family-school relationships. The reviewed articles indicated that family-school partnerships depend on the landscape of the school system. Communication from the families to the schools and vice versa is important for persons with RAD or EBD diagnoses, as well as interventions and support systems. While this review does help to better understand these family–school partnerships, educators would benefit from additional studies during this time of the Common Core State Standards, increased accountability, inclusion, and high–stakes testing.

Keywords: Reactive attachment disorder, Emotional behavioral disorder/s, Parental involvement, Families, Schools, Family-school relationships/partnerships.