Standard 6.1: Supportive relationships with families

Respectful relationships with families are developed and maintained and families are supported in their parenting role.

How Standard 6.1 contributes to quality education and care

Standard 6.1 acknowledges that the family is the most powerful influence on each child’s life and that learning outcomes are most likely to be achieved when educators work in partnership with families to ensure the experiences planned for children are meaningful (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 12; Framework for School Age Care, p. 10). This Standard also recognises that each family’s wellbeing and capacity to nurture and support their children, is influenced by the community in which they live and the material resources and social supports available to them.

In Australia there is a diversity of family types (including, for example blended and extended families, LGBTI parents) and all families are different. Children have diverse understandings of ‘family’ and unique relationships with those who feature prominently in their lives. Services that reflect on what the concept of family means to each child can nurture the important relationships that exist between children and their families. For example, services need to recognise the importance of extended families, kinship ties, carers and guardians in children’s lives.

Effective, respectful communication between educators and families builds shared understanding of each other’s expectations and attitudes, and builds on the strength of each other’s knowledge. Educators create a welcoming environment when the diversity of families, and the families’ practices and aspirations they hold for their children, are respected (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 13; Framework for School Age Care, p. 11). Sometimes family aspirations and expectations can be in conflict with service philosophy and practice. Open, respectful and non-judgmental communication between educators and families builds a shared understanding of children’s learning and participation.

Collaborative partnerships with families contribute to building a strong, inclusive community within the service. Respectful, honest and open two-way communication with educators assists families to feel connected with their children’s experience in education and care and helps them develop trust and confidence in the service. The service also supports families in their parenting role by becoming a reliable source of practical information about resources and services within the local community and by helping families to understand what constitutes quality practice.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 6.1 (for all services)

Respectful and inclusive relationships with families

  • How do we help all families to feel comfortable, welcome and valued at the service?
  • Does our concept of family reflect the diversity of family structures in the service and the wider community?
  • How could we improve our approach to support relationships with all families?
  • How do we promote a common understanding of inclusion?
  • How do we promote the benefits and value of inclusion for all children and families?
  • How can we engage in genuine partnership with families to challenge and address stereotypical or biased views of family compositions?
  • How do we listen to families and include their perspectives in the educational program?
  • What role do families play in the service? How can we recognise their contributions?
  • How do we share decision-making with families? What decisions can we make together with families?
  • How does the information that families provide to the service contribute to operational decision-making?
  • How does the service establish and maintain meaningful partnerships with all families?
  • How can the service be more accessible to families?
  • How do we communicate our philosophy and educational choices with families?
  • What strategies are in place for information sharing between families and the service during orientation, settling in and onwards?
  • What techniques or strategies do we use to communicate with families who have specific or diverse communication preferences?
  • How can we find out if our communication strategies are reaching all families and if they would prefer other methods?

Supporting families in their parenting role

  • How do we encourage families to contribute to their child’s experiences in ways that are meaningful for them?
  • How do we learn about children’s families and others who are important in their lives?
  • How do we respond when families make requests or express concerns?
  • How do we find out and share information about the community resources that are relevant to our service and to the children in the service and their families?
  • How do we support families to access community services and resources? How do we find out what kinds of support would be beneficial to families?
  • How do we support and reassure families whose children are using an education and care service for the first time?
  • How do we seek information that will assist children to manage separation from their primary caregiver without anxiety?