Working with parents and other professionals is a large part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Professionals should work together to meet the needs of children and families, and there are various ways this can be done across the sector.
Consultation and involvement
Involving parents and carers from the very beginning is vital. From transition period inductions and daily chats, to sharing resources and holding information sessions; there are lots of ways for your setting to consult and involve parents and carers.
It's important that parents and carers know the child’s key person, and it's your role as that person to keep them informed of their child’s progress. There's also ways to involve them in their child’s learning and development, such as by providing take-home resource packs.
Once a positive relationship has been established with parents it's important to continue building upon it, so that if new concerns or situations arise practitioners are in the best possible position to work alongside and to support parents.
It's important that all staff are aware of their own responsibilities for working with parents, especially those whose children may have additional or special educational needs or disabilities.
When working with parents it's important:
- to share information on how things work.
- to make sure they know who to go to when they need to discuss important issues regarding their child.
- they understand the role of the key person, the setting special educational needs co-coordinator (SENCO), and any advisory support staff.
- they have a copy of your relevant up-to-date policies.
- to involve them and carers in the process of reviewing policies and procedures.
- to not use jargon or acronyms they might not understand.
- they can be sign posted to the SEND local offer, early help for families and other information.
What to expect, when?
The What to expect, when? guide can help parents find out more about how their child is learning and developing during their first five years, in relation to the EYFS. The guide has been written to help parents know what to expect during these vitally important years by focusing on the seven areas of learning and development which are covered in the EYFS. This resource can be used to support parents get to grips with their child’s learning.
Early help for families
As a childcare provider you'll support families that at some point may experience challenging times. Early help is about working with these families so that small problems don’t become big problems. There are lots of reasons why people look for early help, and early years practitioners are in a prime position to provide that help, guidance and support.
Where families are experiencing specific issues, signposting them to a particular agency may be all that's needed to support a family in their time of struggle. However, if families are in need of support from more than one agency it may be that you need to discuss the possibility of an Early Help Assessment (EHA).
Early Help Assessments
Starting an Early Help Assessment (EHA) is nothing to worry about - it’s just a conversation to work out how to help a family stop small issues they are having becoming more of a concern. You can talk to the family about things that are going well and things that they are proud of, as well as things they are finding a challenge.
An EHA is a multi-agency approach to support families in need and make sure all their issues can be addressed where possible. You can read more about undertaking an EHA, or speak to your Quality Improvement Officer for more support with this.
Family centres offer a friendly one-stop-shop for families with children and young people aged 0 to 19 years old (25 if they have a disability). They're welcoming places offering fun activities, somewhere to meet new people, and learning opportunities, as well as access to health services and family support.
It's important to familiarise yourself with your local family centre in order to improve the support you offer families and sign posting opportunities. Utilising your partnership with your local family centre will strengthen your support for parents and give you a starting point to multi agency-working.
Family Services Directory
The Family Services Directory provides information for all the family, including about childcare and education. In order to help people easily find and choose childcare within the borough, you should create an account for your setting and keep it updated with current information. If you're starting up a new setting you can set up an account online, or contact your Quality Improvement Officer.
Keeping your account up to date and providing as much information to promote your service as possible will help parents to make their choices. Part of this will include developing a SEND local offer - the support available for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities. If you need support with this please contact us for referral to the Family Involvement Officer for Disabled Children and Young People.