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Parent-Child Care Provider Partnerships

Dear Debi,
I have a parent who complains about the food I feed her daughter, how many naps she takes and our lesson plan. I try to assure her I have the childís best interests at heart, but she still complains. What can I do to let her know that weíre a team?
Bernadine, Marina Del Rey, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Share information about the childís experiences
  • Make parents feel valued and respected
  • Try to communicate face-to-face
  • Parents should be clear about expectations from providers
Expert Advice
Susan Baxter
Susan Baxter
Early Childhood Education Instructor, El Camino Community College
A partnership between a child care provider and a parent is crucial. It will support the overall development of the child, and aid in the creation of a consistent and seamless daily routine. The best way for a provider to create a partnership with the parents is by building trust and being honest.

Naptime and kids getting too dirty are major issues between parents and providers. Both sides must discuss what they expect when it comes to these issues. When you make your contract, be clear about the way your curriculum works and ask the parents to provide play clothes that they donít mind getting dirty.

The key to partnering with parents is to communicate often with them and share information about their childís experiences and development. Parents who feel valued and respected are more likely to want to maintain an open dialogue with you.

And try to communicate face-to-face. Successful partnerships are based on personal contact, respect and continued communication.

If you are a parent, be very clear and identify what you need and expect from a provider. Write things down before the child joins the program, such as issues with food and naptime.

When a difference arises between the two parties, begin by having a conversation. But make sure the child isnít around, never talk or discuss any issues or problems in front of them. Thatís why some providers prefer to meet in a neutral territory, such as a neighborhood coffeehouse, although it is not necessary.

Establishing ongoing communication is key. When an issue develops, address it immediately. The problem will grow if you put it off and you will let resentment foster.
Child Care provider Comments
Darlene Patterson
Darlene Patterson
Family child care provider for 22 years and mother of three
I make it a point to talk to parents face-to-face. If you donít, sometimes things are left unsaid.
I had a little boy who didnít speak very clearly but his mother thought his speech was fine. I told her we needed to talk about it, face-to-face. When we finally got together, I shared my concerns about her sonís speech; he was four years old and still didnít speak well. I gave her some information about where she might go to get speech therapy for her son, if needed.
She was so grateful to me for having talked to her in person, not ignoring the problem and shipping her son off to kindergarten.
Child care provider for 8 years
As a child care provider, itís important to respect a parentís boundaries and know when not to be involved. But it can be very frustrating, because some parents can be delusional.
I used to have a child who, within three minutes of his mother coming to pick him up, would be throwing tantrums and hitting everybody. He never displayed that type of behavior until she showed up and sheíd let him get away with it. I never offered any help because she didnít ask for it. If she didnít find a problem with his behavior, out of respect, I was not going to bring it up.
Parent Comments
Two-year-old son attends family child care
I have a good relationship with my provider, thatís because weíre constantly communicating. At one point, I couldnít get Ryan to sleep until around 2:00 am in the morning. This kept happening, and I was wondering why he refused to go to bed.
Once I sat and talked with my provider, I found out he was taking naps in the morning and again in the evening. I immediately told her that I didnít want him to take a nap past 5 oíclock. She implemented what we had discussed and began to give him earlier naps.
If I hadnít taken the initiative to talk to my provider, I wouldnít have known how to correct the problem.

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