Relationships with families are at the heart of an early childhood professional’s work. Building and sustaining these relationships benefits the children in your care as well as your business. Family engagement can look different for different programs– some programs plan events during the day or after hours for families to drop in, others integrate a more casual approach where families can spend time in the program as they’re available. Family engagement can also look more formal, with structured conferences or requesting volunteers for field trips. Welcoming families into your program is the first step to building strong relationships.

Give families a snap shot of their child’s day in care! Prints two sheets per page.


TS Daily Communication sheet

During our webinar, Child Development for the Family Child Care Provider, there were many providers offering excellent suggestions and strategies for helping to bridge the home and FCC experience and partnering with parents in this process. Here are a few of the highlights:

(These are quotes from FCC professionals who participated in the webinar and contributed their questions and ideas during the live webinar. We have made minor edits to some quotes to fit this format. To view the recording of the webinar, click on the Professional Development section and explore webinars).




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


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 Professional Development page.