Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.3 Parent/Guardian Relationships

2.3.2 Regular Communication Parent/Guardian Conferences

Along with short informal daily conversations between parents/guardians and caregivers/teachers, and as a supplement to the collaborative relationships caregivers/teachers and parents/guardians form specifically to support infants and toddlers, periodic and regular planned communication (e.g., parent/guardian conferences) should be scheduled with at least one parent/guardian of every child in care:

  1. To review the child’s adjustment to care and development over time;
  2. To reach agreement on appropriate disciplinary measures;
  3. To discuss the child’s strengths, specific health issues, special needs, and concerns;
  4. To stay informed of family issues that may affect the child’s behavior in care;
  5. To identify goals for the child;
  6. To discuss resources that parents/guardians can access;
  7. To discuss the results of developmental screening.

At these planned conferences a caregiver/teacher should review with the parent/guardian the child’s health report, and the health record and assessments of development and learning that the program may do to identify medical and developmental issues that require follow-up or adjustment by the facility.

Each review should be documented in the child’s health record with the signature of the parent/guardian and the staff reviewer. These planned conferences should occur:

  1. As part of the intake process;
  2. At each health update interval;
  3. On a calendar basis, scheduled according to the child’s age:
    1. Every six months for children under six years of age and for children with special health care needs;
    2. Every year for children six years of age and older;
  4. Whenever new information is added to the child’s facility health record.

Additional conferences should be scheduled if the parent/guardian or caregiver/teacher has a concern at any time about a particular child. Any concern about a child’s health or development should not be delayed until a scheduled conference date.

Notes about these planned communications should be maintained in each child’s record at the facility and should be available for review.

Parents/guardians and caregivers/teachers alike should be aware of, and should have arrived at, an agreement concerning each other’s beliefs and knowledge about how to care for children. Reviewing the health record with parents/guardians ensures correct information and can be a valuable teaching and motivational tool (1). It can also be a staff learning experience, through insight gained from parents/guardians on a child’s special circumstances.

Studies have shown that parent–child interactions characterized as structured and responsive to the child’s needs and emotions were positively related to school readiness, social skills, and receptive communication skills development (2).

A health history is the basis for meeting the child’s health, mental, safety, and social needs in the child care setting (1). Review of the health record can be a valuable educational tool for parents/guardians, through better understanding of the health report and immunization requirements (1). A goal of out-of-home care of infants and children is to identify parents/guardians who are in need of instruction so they can provide preventive health/nutrition/physical activity care at a critical time during the child’s growth and development. It is in the child’s best interest that the staff communicates with parents/guardians about the child’s needs and progress. Parent/guardian support groups and parent/guardian involvement at every level of facility planning and delivery are usually beneficial to the children, parents/guardians, and staff. Communication among parents/guardians whose children attend the same facility helps the parents/guardians to share useful information and to be mutually supportive.

The need for follow-up on needed intervention increases when an understanding of the need and motivation for the intervention has been achieved through personal contact. A health history ensures that all information needed to care for the child is available to the appropriate staff member. Special instructions, such as diet, can be copied for everyday use. Compliance can be assessed by reviewing the records of these planned communications.

Parents/guardians who use child care services should be regarded as active participants and partners in facilities that meet their needs as well as their children’s. Especially for infants and toddlers, authentic relationships are crucial to the optimal development of the child. Compliance can be measured by interviewing parents/guardians and staff.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Qualifications and Responsibilities for Health Advocates Assessment and Planning of Nutrition for Individual Children Written Policy for Obtaining Preventive Health Service Information Documentation of Exemptions and Exclusion of Children Who Lack Immunizations Identification of Child’s Medical Home and Parental Consent for Information Exchange Information Sharing on Therapies and Treatments Needed Information Sharing on Family Health Contents of Child’s Records Pre-Admission Enrollment Information for Each Child Contents of Admission Agreement Between Child Care Program and Parent/Guardian Contents of Child’s Primary Care Provider’s Assessment Health History Contents of Medication Record Contents of Facility Health Log for Each Child Release of Child’s Records
  1. Aronson, S. 2002. Model Child Care Health Policies. 4th ed. Bryn Mawr, PA: American Academy of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania Chapter.
  2. Connell, C. M., R. J. Prinz. 2002. The impact of childcare and parent–child interactions on school readiness and social skills development for low-income African American children. J of School Psychology 40:177-93.