Talking with Families
This section describes resources and best practices related to talking with families about child and family outcomes.
The page is divided up according to three main areas related to family participation in the outcomes measurement process: talking with families about the outcomes measurement process, encouraging and utilizing input from familes in the process of gathering information about the child and family, and sharing information back with the family about the child outcomes rating or family outcomes measurement process.
The ECTA Center is committed to including the concerns and voices of parents and families throughout our work. We hope that you will find these resources useful in your work.
Explaining outcomes and the measurement process to families
Including families in the assessment process
Talking with families about child ratings and family needs
Informing Families about Outcomes
Some of the key components of informing families aboutchild and family outcomes include the following:
- Program staff define child and family outcomes with families.
- Program staff describe the purposes/intent of collecting outcomes data, including
- program accountability,
- measuring child progress, and;
- improving practices, interventions, and/or services.
- Program staff discuss with families the outcomes measurement process in their state/program, including:
- when children and families are assessed (e.g. entry and exit, once a year survey, etc.),
- how information is gathered about the child and family, and
- what tools are used for assessment, as appropriate.
Resources for informing families about the outcomes measurement process:
- A Parents Guide to Participating in the Child Outcomes Process: This is an example of a state brochure used to provide information to families about outcomes.
- For other examples of state flyers and brochures, see Informing Familes About Outcomes.
Family Participation in Data Collection
Families can participate in the collection of outcomes data in multiple ways. Collecting information from families for the measurement of child outcomes data is a part of all early intervention and early childhood special education program activities, throughout referral and intake, initial and ongoing child assessment, and measuring their child's progress over time. Families also participate in activities that assess their experiences in the program including family surveys, interviews or focus groups that provide feedback to their child's early intervention and/or early childhood special education programs.
Some of the key components of a quality approach to informing families about the collection of child and family outcome data include the following:
- Program staff invite family engagement through multiple options and formats for collecting information about their child and family (e.g.,interview guides, checklists, etc.).
- Program staff use a strengths-based approach to gather information about the child and family.
- Program staff use an individualized approach to gather information from families. Examples include communicating in a family's home language and scheduling visits based on the family's schedule.
- Program staff obtain information about the child in their natural environments, for example at home or child care, with familiar adults present.
- Program staff use multiple sources to gather information about the child’s functioning, which may include direct observation using assessment tools, and structured or informal family interviews.
- Programs engage families in the outcomes measurement process in an ongoing manner throughout their time in the program.
Resources for including family participation in the outcomes measurement process
- DEC Recommended Practices, including how families participate in assessment.
- A Family Guide to Participating in the Child Outcomes Measurement Process: This booklet, developed by the ECTA and the National Parent Technical Assistance Center at the PACER Center, provides suggestions for families and parent centers about engaging families in the child outcomes measurement process.
- Una Guía Familiar Para la Participación en el Proceso para la Medición de Resultados de los Niños: A Family Guide to Participating in the Child Outcomes Measurement Process (Spanish Version)
Reviewing Data with Families
Families play a vital role in the review of their child's outcomes data throughout their time in early intervention and early childhood special education. Programs must support a family's understanding of the data by informing them about the processes and uses of both child- and family-level data, and by informing them of and reviewing data collected across their program, district, or state.
Reviewing Child- and Family-Level Data with Families
Some of the key components of a quality approach to reviewing child-level data with families include the following:
- Program staff review child level data with families.
- Program staff accurately describe child's behaviors and skills in an understandable and sensitive manner.
- Program staff communicate child's skills in relation to ratings in a meaningful way that addresses both strengths and concerns/needs.
- Program staff ask families for feedback about the accuracy of findings and engage families in meaningful conversations about the findings.
- Program staff use child and family data to write IFSP/IEP outcomes and plan for services.
Reviewing Program and State-Level Data with Families
Some of the key components of a quality approach to reviewing program, district or state level data with families include the following:
- Program staff present data in multiple formats and with user-friendly language.
Resources for reviewing program, district or state level data with families
- Tips for Administrators, Teachers, and Families: How to Share Data Effectively: This brief by the Harvard Family Resource Center presents ideas on how to share data with different groups of consumers.