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Moving From Family Participation to Partnerships: Not Always Easy; Always Worth the Effort

by Anne Stonehouse
March/April 2011
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/moving-from-family-participation-to-partnerships-not-always-easy-always-worth-the-effort/5019848/

The early childhood profession has a strong tradition of involving families that is, finding ways to help families connect with services. Involvement, sometimes called participation, is valuable, but current thinking suggests going beyond involvement to partnerships. It's important to have many ways for families to be involved and participate in the life of the service if they want to; however, family involvement is now seen not as an end in itself, but rather as a means to an end: partnerships with families.

As is true of personal and business partnerships, child care partnerships with families take many forms. The partnership with each family will be unique, but they all have some common characteristics:

mutual respect
trust
sensitivity to the perspective of the other
ongoing, open, 'both-ways' communication
common goals that are clear and agreed on: the child's well-being
clarity about roles and responsibilities
teamwork; absence of rivalry or competition
recognition and valuing of the unique contribution and strengths of the partner
shared decision making.

Respect for families and children is the foundation for healthy partnerships. Children, no matter how young, are active participants in the relationship, and their views are taken into account.

Working in partnership doesn't mean ...

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