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Parent Partnerships

Inviting Parents to Talk

The state requires that you obtain specific information about children in your care, but that information is limited. How you begin a conversation with parents can determine how much usable information you gather about their child.

What is usable information about a child? What do you think is essential information? For example, at the time of enrollment, are there any essential reasons parents should disclose that a child has Down syndrome?


Childcare center administrators report that parents sometimes withhold information about their children. All young children need assistance and support. A completed checklist or a disclosed classification (such as Down syndrome) will not make a big difference in what staff know about that child. Some parents might fear that their children will be rejected without anyone taking the time to get to know them. Some are new to raising children and do not notice their child’s needs as being anything other than ordinary.

In general, parents want their children to be safe and well cared for, to be liked and respected, to have friends, to learn and to be happy. When inviting parents to talk, ask questions with these factors in mind:

  • Do the questions you usually ask suggest a possible line between including or rejecting a child?

  • How could you frame questions to convey a commitment to supporting a child well and nurturing growth?

Think about the purpose and context of your relationships with children in order to define some reasonable boundaries.

  • What information do childcare workers need given the nature and context of their relationships with children?

For example, does a childcare worker need the same information as a healthcare worker? No, but enough to be attentive to relevant matters of good health and safety. Does a childcare worker need the same information as a diagnostician, a psychologist, or a clinical social worker? No, but a childcare worker can be a valuable resource if parents are seeking a diagnosis or making other kinds of clinical decisions for a child.

People need information about a child based on their role in a child’s life. Information we define as essential should be based on what we do.


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