Mother and Father posting with infantParents are the first and most important teachers of their children. Research shows that children whose families are involved in the education of their children are more successful in school and in life. When caregivers, teachers, medical providers, therapists and other service providers develop trusting and collaborative relationships with families, children benefit. This is especially true for children with disabilities. Mutually respectful partnerships between families and professionals help to ensure that children receive the services and supports they need to support their education and development. Building partnerships should start when a baby is born and continue as a child begins their journey in a child care setting, and throughout their school-age years. Developing healthy and strong family and community relationships is a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to positive child outcomes.

The MAP… Making Access Possible Project team has identified the following websites and resources that support family engagement and promote partnerships with families.

10 things the World Can Learn from People with Disabilites

In this Huffington Post article Tiffany Carlson, a writer with a disability, shares her insight. People with a disability learn so much throughout their lives; life lessons that able-bodied people rarely get to experience. Having a disability is definitely difficult, but it’s also one of the richest classrooms a human can experience, too. While these learning experiences are more profound experienced directly, there are some special tokens of wisdom we can pass along. See the complete article for her insightful words of wisdom.

7 Things You Don’t Know About a Special Needs Parent

This Huffington Post article by Maria Lin, writer, journalist and parent of a child with special needs gives you insight into the challenges and blessings of being a parent of a child with a disability.

Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE)

The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) works to increase the nation’s capacity to effectively resolve special education disputes, reducing the use of expensive adversarial processes. CADRE works with state and local education and early intervention systems, parent centers, families and educators to improve programs and results for children with disabilities. CADRE is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs at the US Department of Education to serve as the National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education.

Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC)

The Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CECMHC) was funded as an Innovation and Improvement Project by the Office of Head Start in October 2008. The 3-year grant brings together a group of university researchers to develop strategies to help Head Start programs build a strong mental health foundation for their children, families and staff. The site houses resources for Head Start mental health consultants, staff, families, administrators and T&TA Providers.


From Frank Porter Graham at the University of North Carolina the Connect Modules provide training on practices to solve dilemmas in early childhood settings with videos, activities and narratives to guide you through a process to learn about serving children with disabilities effectively. Modules include PowerPoints, videos, activities and reflective questions for use in providing in-service or pre-service training. Also available are online training modules. See the link below.


Edutopia is dedicated to transforming kindergarten through 12th-grade (K-12) education so all students can thrive in their studies, careers, and adult lives. We are focused on practices and programs that help students acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, skills and beliefs to achieve their full potential.

Engaging Families and Creating Trusting Partnerships to Improve Child and Family Outcomes

March – June 2017 Webinar Series
The ECTA Center is partnering with the DaSy Center, Ann and Rud Turnbull, and invited guests to facilitate an interactive 4-part web broadcast series aimed at supporting early intervention (EI) and early childhood special education (ECSE) systems leaders with building capacity in personnel and families to develop trusting partnerships. These partnerships in a child’s early years lay the foundation for achieving the long-term intended outcomes for children/students with developmental delays and disabilities articulated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

Expect More Arizona

Expect More Arizona is a public-private partnership dedicated to making education the top priority in the state of Arizona. Expect more Arizona unites individuals and organizations that believe expectations must be much higher and sharing our commitment in making Arizona’s commitment, birth through career, the best in the nation. The path to higher expectations and educational excellence requires great teachers, motivated students, engaged parents, committed leaders and supportive communities – all working together to increase student academic achievement and ultimately their readiness to succeed in college and career.

Harvard Family Research Project

The Harvard Family Research Project has helped stakeholders develop and evaluate strategies to promote the well being of children, youth, families, and their communities. They work primarily within three areas that support children’s learning and development—early childhood education, out-of-school time programming, and family and community support in education. Underpinning all of their work is a commitment to evaluation for strategic decision making, learning, and accountability. Below are some useful publications and links to areas on the Harvard Family Research Project that are directly related to family engagement.

Head Start: Best Practices in Family and Community Engagement Video Series

Rooted in the Office of Head Start (OHS) Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework, the videos highlight examples of innovative approaches to engagement that foster strong relationships with families and lead to positive outcomes for children and families.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

1313 L Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone: 202-232-8777 or 800-424-2460
Fax: 202-328-1846

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is the nation’s largest organization of early childhood professionals and others dedicated to improving the quality of early childhood education programs for children birth through age eight. NAEYC’s primary goals are to improve professional practice and working conditions in early childhood education and to build public understanding and support for high-quality early childhood programs.

National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group

In 2009 the National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group developed a comprehensive definition of family engagement that acknowledges the importance of families in student success and the need for collaboration between families and all organizations and agencies that are involved with children from birth through high school:

Family engagement is:

  • A shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to engaging families in meaningful and culturally respectful ways, and families are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning and development.
  • Continuous across a child’s life, spanning from Early Head Start programs to college preparation high schools.
  • Carried out everywhere that children learn – at home, in pre-kindergarten programs, in school, in after-school programs, in faith-based institutions, and in community programs and activities.

National PTA Family-School Partnerships Implementation Guide

National PTA Family-School Partnerships Implementation Guide The benefits of family-school-community partnerships are many: higher teacher morale, more parent involvement, and greater student success are only a few. That is why PTA developed the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships Implementation Guide, a tool for empowering people to work together with an end goal of building family-school partnerships and student success.

Office of Head Start National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement (NCPFC)

The Office of Head Start National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement (NCPFC) released the Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework in September of 2011. The framework, downloadable and available in both English and Spanish, is a “road map” to family and community engagement across systems and service areas. Along with the framework are a variety of short videos (links) discussing this framework and family engagement through the eyes of the national director of Head Start, teachers, and parents. The framework and short videos focus on the development of family engagement partnerships and is a comprehensive guide into incorporating research-based methods in developing relationships among families, communities, and providers which will aid in the development of a healthy and balanced child who is ready for school success.

To further promote the use of the framework, in January of 2012 the NCPFC introduced a guide for use of the Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework, specifically focused on helping programs to identify “markers of progress,” and using the recently developed “self assessment tool”.

  • Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Simulation
    The PFCE Online Simulation takes you to a virtual Head Start Center where you assume the role of a Head Start staff member meeting a mother and her child during an intake visit to introduce the family to the program. In the role play, you will practice four every day and engaging relationship-building strategies with emotionally responsive avatars.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

The TA Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports has been established by the Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education to give schools capacity-building information and technical assistance for identifying, adapting, and sustaining effective school-wide disciplinary practices.

This TA Center provides guidance and tools in developing positive relationships with families of school age children. Below is the link to the area on the website that provides rationale for parent involvement, research, best practices and tips for teachers (School, Family and Community Partnerships) and a link to another area of the site that includes a list of parent training resources and specifically a “Family Engagement Checklist.”

Right Choice for Kids

Right Choice for Kids was originally created by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to inform families about the importance of high-quality early childhood education programs for young children. However, they’ve let their domain expire in October 2012, so we took over the domain and are currently in the process of setting up something new, with the needs of young children in mind.

State Approaches to Family Engagement in Pre-K Programs (PDF)

This policy brief from CEELO (Center on Early Learning Outcomes) defines effective family engagement, identifies types of programs with family engagement requirements and frameworks and includes alignment considerations.

US Deparment of Education (USDE): Family Engagement Policy

When families and the institutions where children learn partner in meaningful ways, children have more positive attitudes toward school, stay in school longer, have better attendance, and experience more school success. To further this position, the Departments released a policy statement on the implementation of effective family engagement practices in early childhood and learning programs.

Zero to Three

Zero to Three is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated solely to advancing the healthy development of babies and young children. Zero to Three disseminates key developmental information, trains providers, promotes model approaches and standards of practice, and works to increase public awareness about the significance of the first three years of life.

Select link for more information on ZERO TO THREE

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