Caring for Our Children (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, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small 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.