Families play a very important role in our services, without families there would be no children. Here are 5 tips to help with this principle …
- Develop professional relationships: While we see families sometimes 5 days a week for many years and get quite close to them, it is important to maintain a professional relationship as this can be useful if there are any issues that arise during their engagement with the service. Actions such as becoming facebook friends, socialising outside of work and so forth can lead to preferential treatment, or an abuse of privacy and confidentiality. Some services have clear expectations around this whether verbal or written while others do not so the expectations are unclear.
- Respect the needs of the families: While running an early childhood service is business, it is also important that it reflects the context within which it operates. Families are all going to have different needs and expectations and while not all of these will be possible due to a range of reasons, taking the time to understand where the family is coming from can help bridge the gap. It is also important to respect their wishes and try, where possible, to negotiate or compromise instead of simply refusing because it is “not the way we do things here”. You never know when challenging the norm and trying new things can lead to improved practices and collaboration.
- Provide a variety of ways for families to engage: Not every family is going to be able to engage in the same way. Sometimes this is due to time constraints, financial issues, language barriers, cultural reasons, mental health issues, etc. It is important to offer a range of ways for families to engage from meetings and events to providing feedback and donating resources. This way all families can play an active role in a way that suits their needs, not just the needs of the service.
- Address issues in a swift and supportive manner: If an issue should arise with a family this should be valued as learning opportunity and responded to quickly. If you do not have all the information at that time then provide a time-frame that the response will be given by. Make sure when working with families you don’t just offer problems but also offer solutions. For more information check out the recorded webinar “difficult conversations with families“
- Don’t stop offering opportunities: Even though families may not engage with the service as much as you would like it is important to continue to offer opportunities as if you stop offering you will miss opportunities to connect with those families looking for ways to get involved and miss out on the chance to build meaningful partnerships.
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