Family Engagement for Child Care Providers: Strengthen the Connection

Make family engagement an ongoing practice.

Family engagement is not a passing phase—it’s an ongoing practice! Stay engaged, stay connected, and continue to value family engagement as an essential part of children’s well-being.

Refer to the Family Engagement Plan (PDF) to guide ongoing practice.

(Adapted from the Foundational Practices for Effective Family Engagement in Pennsylvania Family Engagement Birth Through College, Career, Community Ready Framework.)

Build Culturally and Linguistically Inclusive and Equitable Relationships


Build relationships and be present.
  • Enjoy neighborhood walks and porch visits.
  • Attend street fairs and other local events in the families’ neighborhoods.
Recognize, honor, and promote existing knowledge.
  • Understand and come to know what families know.
  • Invite families to share with the class/program.
  • Invite linguistically diverse families to teach or share their primary language.
  • Have families assist with buying books for the program.
  • Ask families to assist in decorating classrooms or displays.
Identify and use what works for families.
  • Partner with families to co-plan a school-based family event or to co-design a home-based family activity.
Promote a culture of awareness, learning, and sharing.
  • Listen, observe, and learn from families.
  • Host storytelling and listening groups in which teachers and families gather to share personal experiences.
  • Host reading groups in which teachers and families read books and articles that examine unconscious bias, culture, and other relevant topics that help break down barriers.
Foster community by building social capital.
  • Host mingling events that are centered on relationship-building and resource-sharing on and off school/program property to connect everyone to the surrounding community.
  • Create a “knowledge-sharing” board in the school where parents and teachers share local and personal knowledge.

(Adapted from Five Key Practices for Family Culturally Responsive Family Engagement (PDF) Innovation Magazine, Family Engagement Edition, published by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning, with support from School Readiness Consulting.)


Build Inclusive and Safe Learning Communities


  • Collaborate with families to adjust the physical environment and learning program to meet all children’s needs.
  • Engage in professional development and ongoing learning about inclusive practice.
  • Ensure that a program and its events are accessible to all families, including those whose members have disabilities.
  • Develop a program’s philosophy on inclusion.
  • Collaborate with families to develop challenging and attainable goals for each child.
  • Support each child in reaching their full potential.
  • Establish a system of services and support for children with exceptional needs.
  • Participate in local advocacy efforts to support young children with disabilities.
  • Adhere to any updated health and safety recommendations to keep the learning community safe and healthy.


Child Mental & Behavioral Health Support
Early Intervention and Child Development Support
Exceptional Needs Support & Advocacy

Leverage the Expertise, Knowledge, and Leadership of Families


  • Ask families about their interests and knowledge.
  • Listen to families when they share about their skills and life experiences and ask about ways they could use that knowledge in the program’s learning community.
  • Invite families to discuss community helpers and share with children about their own position in the community.
  • Ask families to sit on a parent advisory committee to support their child and the child care program.
  • Recognize that families take on leadership and may have experience in leading advocacy efforts.
  • Share information about voter registration and the power of voting to support early childhood education funding.
  • Invite families to volunteer in your program.
  • Encourage families to share their home language with children in the classroom.
  • Ask families for guidance when selecting classroom books, decorating the classroom, or sharing student work.
  • Invite families to collaborate in planning program events.
  • Invite families into the classroom to read a story aloud or share a family story.
  • Host events that focus on facilitating relationships between families.


Engage in Professional Growth


  • Know that the role of a caregiver in a child’s life is essential.
  • Understand that work with children requires skill building and learning.
  • Approach learning about child development and education as an ongoing, life-long pursuit.
  • Identify areas of child development and learning that enrich practice with children.
  • Know that understanding the importance of play is essential to developmentally appropriate practice.
  • Determine what the professional development goals are: Does someone want to learn about a certain subject? Would someone like to complete a CDA credential or obtain an Associates Degree?
  • Seek out low-cost or free opportunities to advance knowledge.
  • Attend in-person events and/or virtual learning opportunities to further knowledge of the field of early childhood.


Additional Credentials

English As A Second Language (ESL) Support


This is a resource from our Family Engagement Toolkit.

Browse the entire toolkit with resources for providers, relative providers, and families.


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