Caring for Our Childen (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.4 Health Education

2.4.3 Health Education for Parents/Guardians Parent/Guardian Education Plan

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 1/17/17.


The content of a parent/guardian education plan should be individualized to meet each family’s needs and should be sensitive to cultural values and beliefs. Written material, at a minimum, should address the most important health and safety issues for all age groups served, should be in a language understood by families, and may include the topics listed in Standard, with special emphasis on the following:

  1. Safety (such as home, community, playground, firearm, age- and size-appropriate car seat use, safe medication administration procedures, poison awareness, vehicular, or bicycle, and awareness of environmental toxins and healthy choices to reduce exposure);
  2. Value of developing healthy and safe lifestyle choices early in life and parental/guardian health (such as exercise and routine physical activity, nutrition, weight control, breastfeeding, avoidance of substance abuse and tobacco use, stress management, maternal depression, HIV/AIDS prevention);
  3. Importance of outdoor play and learning;
  4. Importance of role modeling;
  5. Importance of well-child care (such as immunizations, hearing/vision screening, monitoring growth and development);
  6. Child development and behavior including bonding and attachment;
  7. Domestic and relational violence;
  8. Conflict management and violence prevention;
  9. Oral health promotion and disease prevention;
  10. Effective toothbrushing, handwashing, diapering, and sanitation;
  11. Positive discipline, effective communication, and behavior management;
  12. Handling emergencies/first aid;
  13. Child advocacy skills;
  14. Special health care needs;
  15. Information on how to access services such as the supplemental food and nutrition program (i.e., The Women, Infants and Children [WIC] Supplemental Food Program), Food Stamps (SNAP), food pantries, as well as access to medical/health care and services for developmental disabilities for children;
  16. Handling loss, deployment, and divorce;
  17. The importance of routines and traditions (including reading and early literacy) with a child.

Health and safety education for parents/guardians should utilize principles of adult learning to maximize the potential for parents/guardians to learn about key concepts. Facilities should utilize opportunities for learning, such as the case of an illness present in the facility, to inform parents/guardians about illness and prevention strategies.

The staff should introduce seasonal topics when they are relevant to the health and safety of parents/guardians and children.

Adults learn best when they are motivated, comfortable, and respected; when they can immediately apply what they have learned; and when multiple learning strategies are used. Individualized content and approaches are needed for successful intervention. Parent/guardian attitudes, beliefs, fears, and educational and socioeconomic levels all should be given consideration in planning and conducting parent/guardian education (1,2). Parental/guardian behavior can be modified by education. Parents/guardians should be involved closely with the facility and be actively involved in planning parent/guardian education activities. If done well, adult learning activities can be effective for educating parents/guardians. If not done well, there is a danger of demeaning parents/guardians and making them feel less, rather than more, capable (1,2).

The concept of parent/guardian control and empowerment is key to successful parent/guardian education in the child care setting. Support and education for parents/guardians lead to better parenting skills and abilities.

Knowing the family will help the staff such as the health and safety advocate determine content of the parent/guardian education plan and method for delivery. Specific attention should be paid to the parents’/guardians’ need for support and consultation and help locating resources for their problems. If the facility suggests a referral or resource, this should be documented in the child’s record. Specifics of what the parent/guardian shared need not be recorded.

Community resources can provide written health- and safety-related materials. 
Center, Large Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Qualifications and Responsibilities for Health Advocates Child Care Health Consultants Helping Families Cope with Separation Mutual Responsibility of Parents/Guardians and Staff Health and Safety Education Topics for Children Community Resource Information
  1. National Association for the Education of Young Children. 2012. Supporting cultural competence: Accreditation of programs for young children cross-cutting theme in program standards.
  2. Gupta, R. S., S. Shuman, E. M. Taveras, M. Kulldorff, J. A. Finkelstein. 2005. Opportunities for health promotion education in child care. Pediatrics 116: e499-e505.      

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Education and community support for health literacy. 2016.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips for parents – Ideas to help children maintain a healthy weight. 2016.
    Office of Head Start. Head start cultural and linguistic responsiveness resource catalogue. Volume three : Cultural responsiveness  (first edition). 2012.

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 1/17/17.