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Caring for whole families: Relationships between providers and families during infancy and toddlerhood


Caring relationships among families and providers are at the heart of high-quality early care and education (ECE). This study examines relationships between parents and providers in a nationally representative sample of infants and toddlers and their families (N = 527) enrolled in the two-generation Early Head Start (EHS) program in the U.S. EHS’ primary services include home visiting and center-based early education, taking a whole family approach to provide comprehensive services within caring and trusting relationships. Using weighted lagged regression models, we found that parent and provider reports of their positive relationships with one another at age 2 years were related to some child and family outcomes at the end of their EHS experience at age 3 years. Providers who reported better relationships with parents rated children as having lower behavior problems and enhanced social competence, language comprehension, language production, and home environments. Parents who reported better relationships with providers also reported lower parenting stress and family conflict. Findings suggest that caring relationships between providers and parents are a key part of high-quality ECE within an environment dedicated to an ethic of care not just for children, but for the whole family. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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