Texas Public School counselors' perceptions of family strengths in African American Hurricane Katrina evacuee children and adolescents: A qualitative study
The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine Texas Public School counselors' perceptions of family strengths in Hurricane Katrina African American evacuee children and adolescents and in their families. An additional purpose of this study was to determine how these counselors may have called upon these perceived strengths to intervene in responsive services with these children. To fulfill the objectives of this study, the following questions were researched: (1) What strengths have Texas public school counselors perceived in Black Hurricane Katrina evacuee children and adolescents? (2) What family strengths have Texas public school counselors noticed in Black Hurricane Katrina evacuees? (3) How have Texas public school counselors used these perceived strengths in working with Black Hurricane Katrina students?
From the Texas Education Agency the Researcher requested and obtained a Public Information listing of the Texas public school districts where Katrina evacuee students were enrolled on the day of highest Katrina student count, September 29, 2005. The Researcher accessed the affected public school district websites and email addresses of the counselors in those selected school districts. She submitted 1470 individual emailed solicitations to counselors in the affected districts. Embedded in each email was an invitation to complete the survey which could be accessed via a direct link to the three survey questions posted on Psychdata.com, an online secure research site approved and supported by Texas Woman's University. The survey included three open ended research questions aimed at eliciting information that would reveal the counselors' perceptions of family strengths in the Katrina evacuee students and their families, at some time during the three school years since Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Seventy-five counselors' responded, and 49 counselors became active participants by answering one or more questions on the survey. The focus of this study was to determine if family strengths were noticeable and if they were, did the counselors utilize these strengths in their interventions.
Data was examined for meaning and thematic content. Through triangulated data analysis, three themes emerged: resiliency, commitment to school success, and family cohesiveness. Additional findings included local community support, optimism, and thankfulness. Themes and additional findings are illustrated by means of tables and counselor quotations.
Conclusions, implications, and recommendations for future research are also discussed.