Parental Involvement in an Emerging Democracy: The Case of Croatia

  • Carmen Luca Sugawara Indiana University School of Social Work
  • Jocelyn Clare R. Hermoso San Francisco State University School of Social Work
  • Eva Anđela Delale University of Zagreb, Department of Social Work, Faculty of Law
  • Kay Hoffman University of Kentucky, College of Social Work
  • Diana Lupšić Indiana University School of Social Work
Keywords: Parental involvement, democracy, community participation, Croatia

Abstract

Parental involvement in schools in an emerging democracy has gained significant attention among school administrators, educators, parents, local governments, and the international development community; yet, empirical data on this subject remains sparse. This study aims to examine the patterns of parental involvement in schools in Croatian communities. Using mixed-methods, the sample size consists of 294 elementary school parents, two focus groups (parents and teachers), and nine interviews with national and international stakeholders. The study found that, apart from the educational outcomes for children, parental involvement also may be an important platform through which parents can practice democratic behaviors and engage in community-building initiatives. Through school-related activities, parents learn to interact with a government institution, voice their interests, participate in decision-making, leverage and use power, and cooperate with each other and the community. Findings from this study can have implications for social work practice and social development assistance by recognizing how engaging parents in school-based activities can become a platform for community participation and democratic behavior.

Author Biographies

Carmen Luca Sugawara, Indiana University School of Social Work
Dr. Carmen Luca Sugawara is an Assistant Professor with Indiana University School of Social Work at Indianapolis. Dr. Luca Sugawara has more than 10 years of experience in international social development. She was a former Program Officer with the Academy for Educational Development, responsible for AED's Eastern European civil society strengthening portfolio, and consultant for UNICEF/Romania, working on developing partnership programs between governments, schools, and child welfare NGOs. Dr. Luca Sugawara is committed to promoting international social work practice, especially in the area of community organizing and school social work. Her current research interests includ civil society, civil society networks, civil society program evaluations, and the role of schools in rebuilding communities in countries affected by war.
Jocelyn Clare R. Hermoso, San Francisco State University School of Social Work
Jocelyn Clare R. Hermoso, PhD. is an assistant professor at San Francisco State University School of Social Work.
Eva Anđela Delale, University of Zagreb, Department of Social Work, Faculty of Law
Andela Delale is a PhD in psychologyworking for the University of Zagreb, Department of Social Work, Faculty of Law
Kay Hoffman, University of Kentucky, College of Social Work
Kay Hoffman, PhD Professor, College of Social Work University of Kentucky
Diana Lupšić, Indiana University School of Social Work
Diana Lupšić, LL.M., PhD student
Published
2012-05-31