Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.3 Parent/Guardian Relationships

2.3.1 General Mutual Responsibility of Parents/Guardians and Staff

The quality of the relationship between parents/guardians and caregivers/teachers has an influence on the child. There should be a reciprocal responsibility of the family and caregivers/teachers to observe, participate, and be trained in the care that each child requires, and they should be encouraged to work together as partners in providing care.

During the enrollment process, caregivers/teachers should clarify who is/are the legal guardian(s) of the child. All relevant legal documents, court orders, etc., should also be collected and filed during the enrollment process (1). Caregivers/teachers should comply with court orders and written consent from the parent/guardian with legal authority, and not try to make the determination themselves regarding the best interests of the child.

All aspects of child care programs should be designed to facilitate parent/guardian input and involvement. Non-custodial parents should have access to the same developmental and behavioral information given to the custodial parent/guardian, if they have joint legal custody, permission by court order, or written consent from the custodial parent/guardian.

Caregivers/teachers should also clarify with whom the child spends significant time and with whom the child has primary relationships as they will be key informants for the caregivers/teachers about the child and his/her needs.

Parent/guardian involvement is needed at all levels of the program, including program planning for indoors and outdoors, provision of quality care, screening for children who are ill, and support for other parents/guardians. Communication between the administrator, caregiver/teacher and parent/guardian are essential to facilitate the involvement and commitment of parents/guardians. Parents/guardians should be invited to participate on the program board or planning meetings for the program. Parents/guardians should meet with their child’s caregiver/teacher or the director annually to discuss how their child is doing in the program. On a daily basis, parents/guardians and caregivers/teachers should share information about the child’s health, changes in drop-off or pick-up times, and changes in family routines or family events. Caregivers/teachers should communicate regularly with parents/guardians by providing injury report forms if their child sustains an injury, posting notices of exposures to infectious diseases, and greeting the parent/guardian at drop-off each day. Parents/guardians should receive a copy of the child care programs’ written policies, including health and safety policies.

Caregivers/teachers should informally share with parents/guardians daily information about their child’s needs and activities.

Transition reports on any symptoms that the child developed, differences in patterns of appetite or urinating, and activity level should be exchanged to keep parents/guardians informed.

This plan will help achieve the important goal of carryover of facility components from the child care setting to the child’s home environment. The child’s learning of new skills is a continuous process occurring both at home and in child care.

Research, practice, and accumulated wisdom attest to the crucially important influence of children’s relationships with those closest to them. Children’s experience in child care will be most beneficial when parents/guardians and caregivers/teachers develop feelings of mutual respect and trust. In such a situation, children feel a continuity of affection and concern, which facilitates their adjustment to separation and use of the facility. Especially for infants and toddlers, attention to consistency across settings will help minimize stress that can result from notable differences in routines across caregivers/teachers and settings.

Another ongoing source of stress for an infant or a young child is the separation from those they love and depend upon. Of the various programmatic elements in the facility that can help to alleviate that stress, by far the most important is the comfort in knowing that parents/guardians and caregivers/teachers know the children and their needs and wishes, are in close contact with each other, and can respond in ways that enable children to deal with separation.

The encouragement and involvement of parents/guardians in the social and cognitive leaps of the child provides parents/guardians with the confidence vital to their sense of competence. Caregivers/teachers should be able to direct parents/guardians to sources of information and activities that support child’s development and learning and be able to assist them to obtain appropriate screening and assessment when there are concerns. Communication should be sensitive to ethnic and cultural practices. The parent/guardian/caregiver/teacher partnership models positive adult behavior for school-age children and demonstrates a mutual concern for the child’s well-being (2-16).

In families where the parents/guardians are separated, it is usually in the child’s best interest for both parents/guardians to be involved in the child’s care, and informed about the child’s progress and problems in care. However, it is up to the courts to decide who has legal custody of the child.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Helping Families Cope with Separation Communication in Native Language Other Than English Diversity in Enrollment and Curriculum Verbal Interaction
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