Town Square Research to Practice Statements offers information from theory and research with examples and suggestions for what it means in your work with children. This RtoP focuses on parent engagement and how to develop a healthier relationship with parents.

Reimagining Involvement: Parent Engagement

As a family child care provider, the well-being of the parents I provide services to is just as important as the children that I care for on a daily basis. Parents would often share how overwhelmed they felt balancing work, home and family. Having raised three of my own children, I could empathize with their frustration. I thought, what would have made raising my children a little easier? This thought gave way to Parents’ Night Out.

Parents’ Night Out is an opportunity for parents to spend an evening catching up on rest without having to worry about child care. I provide this free service quarterly to the parents of children 2 -12 years old that are currently enrolled. Children are allowed to sleep over Friday night through Saturday afternoon at my family child care home. During this time parents are encouraged to go out on a date, enjoy a movie or just catch up on much needed rest and relaxation.

Children benefit from this time away from their parents as well. During the overnight stay, all activities are child-centered. They help plan the evening and morning meals, play group games, select a movie (age appropriate) to watch, and participate in free choice activities with their child care mates!

Lots of planning and prep work goes into make the evening a success for both parents and children alike. I notify parents one month in advance of the event and I stress the importance of taking time to re-energize for their child’s well-being. This is especially important for single parent households. I develop activities with the children during the week before the event to help the children transition to spending the night away from home for the first time. Children are encouraged to bring their favorite toy, pillow, sleeping bag, or blanket.

It’s been twenty years since I began offering Parents’ Night Out and I am still amazed at the impact it has on the parents. They return less stressed and eager to know how their child enjoyed the evening. For me it’s just one more opportunity to continue supporting families in their parenting endeavors and what a privilege and joy it is!



Using family photos from the children in your care is a great way to connect with families and also include culturally relevant images in your environment.  These can be a source of comfort and reassurance for children throughout their day.

Diane Ott, owner of Happy Kids, added photos of children in her care to a table that is used for meals and also other activities throughout the day by placing them under a clear plastic table cover.

Sandy Cole, owner of Sandy’s Kids, has a display of family pictures on a wall near the dramatic play area.  The leaves on the trees in the display have the names of all of the children Sandy has cared for over the years.


Where might you include photos of children’s families in your family child care home?

Town Square Research to Practice Statements offer information from theory and research with examples and suggestions for what it means in your work with children.  This series of position statements includes topics such as fostering self-regulation, the power of open-ended materials, and the benefits of incorporating the arts.

Town Square Research to Practice Statement: Parent Engagement

Family child care provider Melody Robinson shares the following information on a tip sheet for parents when their child is ready to start learning to use the toilet.  She has found that sharing this information has helped parents support their child’s success in her family child care and also when the child is at home.


Helpful Tips for Potty Training for Parents

This list of do’s and don’ts will help you and your child to be more successful at potty training. This is a new learning experience for your child, and you can make it less stressful for them by being patient. They will learn the necessary bathroom skills.

Potty Training Reminders:

No belts

No suspenders or overalls

No onesies t-shirts

No body shirts

No hard to unsnap clothing

(These items hamper the child’s success at potty training)

Potty Training Do’s

Wear only pants with elastic waist

Wear easy to lift or pull down clothing

Wear pull-ups, velcro diapers, or panties with rubber covering in case of accidents


This tip sheet from Illinois Early Learning offers information and insights about why children express separation anxiety and how it is a typical developmental behavior.  There are also helpful suggestions for how to ease anxiety during separations.  This is a resource that is useful for both child care professionals and families.  Illinois Early Learning is funded by the Illinois State Board of Education and offers many other tip sheets as well as a variety of resources for professionals and families.


Separation Anxiety and Children Tip Sheet

Separation Anxiety and Children Tip Sheet – Spanish

The Illinois Early Learning Project provides resources for early childhood professionals related to the Illinois Early Learning Standards.  The Illinois Early Learning (IEL) website offers video clips that can be used as a resource for parents and professionals around a variety of topics related to IEL Standards benchmarks, IEL Guidelines for 0-3, and parenting.  Video content is available in English and Spanish and include transcripts and descriptions.

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Learn, Share, and Grow series cover a particular topic over a series of short video segments.  So if you only have 5 minutes, you can watch one, and if you have more time you can watch a whole series. Check out these short professional development segments on topics of interest to family child care professionals on the Grow Page.

In our recent webinar on child development, providers had lots of questions and advice on dealing with the development of the children in their care. So we brought together some resources from providers as well as expert in the field. Check out these resources for more information.

Establishing a United Approach with Parents

Dealing with Challenging Behaviors: Toddlers

Fostering Self-regulation

Bridging the Home and Family Child Care Experience

The webinar on January 20, 2016 sparked conversations about common scenarios that family child care providers often face in working with families. It can be challenging to approach parents concerning their child’s behavior. Sometimes the behavior is not occurring at home, only in the family child care environment. Sometimes parents see the behavior you describe at home as well, but they aren’t sure what to do about it. It can be difficult to have a discussion with a parent about their child’s behavior not knowing how they will react. Visit the Town Square discussion board to connect with other providers and share ideas about ways to approach talking with parents.

You may have heard the expression that parents need to have a “united front” with their children. We believe family child care providers and parents need to have a united front as well. Beginning with an open conversation with a parent regarding your concerns about their child’s behavior and also lets parents know that you want to collaborate with them to provide consistent messages and responses to children is the starting point.

Try to set the parent at ease and let them know you would like their help to develop a plan to address the issue. Parents may feel embarrassed or upset about the behavior, so reassure them that you will find a solution together. Your years of experience and knowledge of children can further reassure parents. Your experience counts for a lot and you can always seek further resources and help.

When collaborating with parents, each person needs to feel good about and comfortable with the plan. The benefit of collaborating with parents is the consistency for their child. Children feel more secure when they are getting the same message of expected behavior instead of mixed messages. Set goals together for the child and a time to talk again and assess the plan and the child’s progress, and make adjustments and changes to the plan as needed.

To view the Child Development for the Family Child Care Provider webinar visit the Grow page on Town Square.