Children with Disabilities


a father holding his sonFamily practices refer to ongoing activities that address family needs. They promote the active participation of families in making decisions related to their child who is at risk for or has been diagnosed with disabilities. These practices also support families in achieving the goals they hold for their child and other family members. Learn more about recommended practices related to families from the Division for Early Childhood (DEC).

The resources below are organized based on their level of impact for learning and are only a sampling of the resources available on these practices.

Knowledge Awareness Level

Resources that fall into this category provide basic information and do not include activities that draw participants in to respond or reflect. They include archived webinars and newsletters.

Disabilities Services Newsletters
Each Head Start Disabilities Services Newsletter focuses on a different topic related to serving children with disabilities and their families. They include information about the topic, ideas to try out in the classroom, ways to involve and include families, and additional resources.

Family Checklists and Practice Guides for Families and Practitioners
Learn more about using the DEC Recommended Practices on family. The Family Checklists and Practice Guides cover a range of topics, including family-centered practices and informed family decision-making. Also, find information on family capacity building, supporting family member informed decision-making, and families at the center of early childhood intervention.

Family-Guided Routines-Based Intervention (FGRBI) and Caregiver Coaching
Natural environment and family routines are full of learning opportunities for young children with delays and special needs. Discover how the FGRBI approach aligns with the early intervention process and supports children and families. Two interactive modules, which offer detailed information on the principles of FGRBI and how it works together with caregiver coaching, are available to early interventionists and parents.

FGRBI: Embedded, Evidence-Based Instruction
FGRBI strongly encourages building intervention opportunities into daily routines within natural settings. The resources provided walk through basic steps and principles of applying embedded evidence-based interventions in collaboration with families. Review 11 practical strategies parents and caregivers can use to promote child learning and development throughout the day. Early intervention professionals can also use the planning documents with caregivers to craft out an individualized plan for the families with whom they work.

FGRBI: Family-Centered Individualized, Culturally Responsive Services and Supports
Families are the center of early intervention services and an essential member of the early intervention team. Sharing information with families can empower them with the knowledge and skills to be active participants in routine-based intervention. Check out the articles, handouts, and resource links to read about individual cases and how family involvement was supported.

'Individualized Planning for Health' [Background Information] in Essential Principles for Care
Read a summary of Head Start's concept of individualized health planning. It offers information on how to best meet the needs of children with chronic conditions by following a systematic process.

Outcomes Measurement Video: Supporting Children by Improving Family Outcomes
Family outcomes, like child outcomes, should be a focus of early intervention programs. Explore the importance of supporting families, collecting data on family outcomes, and using the data to improve the program. The video explores four essential steps in focusing on family outcomes: describe, deliver, measure, and improve. Discover how three families who received early intervention benefitted from support.

The Unplanned Journey: When You Learn That Your Child Has a Disability
Explore two articles that provide information for parents of a child with a disability. The articles offer tips, support, and resources to help family members deal with the issues they confront on a day-to-day basis. They also may be useful for professionals to help them understand the issues and emotions facing families.

Policy Statement on Family Engagement: From the Early Years to the Early Grades
Families are critical partners in promoting child development. This policy guide from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) provides guidance on the systematic inclusion and engagement of families in activities and programs that promote children's development, learning, and wellness. This includes the planning, development, and evaluation of such activities, programs, and systems.

Relationship-Based Practices: Talking with Families about Developmental Concerns
Read this brief summary on how to approach the difficult conversations about developmental concerns with families. It includes a brief description of each of the six relationship-based practices: 1. Describe the observations of the child's behavior; 2. Focus on the family-child relationship; 3. Value a family's passion; 4. Support parental competence; 5. Actively reflect on the family's perspective; 6. Reflect on your own perspective.

Strengthening Partnerships to Support Babies with Special Needs
This video provides an overview of what families may experience when they learn their child has special needs. It explains how Early Head Start staff can support, empower, and partner with families who have children with special needs.

Video Illustrations of FGRBI in Iowa's Early ACCESS System
Watch a series of short videos with real-life examples of FGRBI home visits. They show the perspectives and testimonies of parents and interventionists towards caregiver coaching and FGRBI.

Knowledge Acquisition Level

Resources that fall into this category provide information and activities that draw participants in to respond or reflect.

A Thinking Guide to Inclusive Childcare
Find ideas and strategies to support staff in developing child care practices that consider the needs of children with and without disabilities. The guide also offers methods for promoting an inclusive experience for the families and children in staff care.

FGRBI: Everyday Routines, Activities, and Places
Identifying family routines and activities is the first step in planning individualized routine-based intervention. Review an interactive module that provides professionals with strategies to work with families to identify daily routines for potential intervention purposes. Professionals can also use the conversation starters and the forms under Resources to gather information through conversations and collaboration with families.

FGRBI: Functional Participation-Based Outcomes
Families and professionals work together to decide on their expected intervention targets and learning outcomes. Watch the interactive module to gain a better understanding of functional outcomes and how to write meaning intervention goals. Professionals can read the cases of Tyree and Cody to get ideas of how to use routines to target learning goals for children. Use the checklists under Resources to observe and assess caregiver and child routines and monitor progress of the intervention.

Inclusion Planning Checklist: Center-Based Early Care and Education Programs
This checklist is a tool for providing center-based services to infants, toddlers, or preschoolers with disabilities, and their families. The suggestions may be useful for creating responsive and inclusive environments. This checklist contains four sections: 1. Build Relationships; 2. Gather and Share Information and Resources; 3. Develop and Implement Plans; and 4. Review and Evaluate Services.

Making It on Our Own: Customizing an Individualized Health Plan [A Learning Activity]
This activity will help health managers, disability coordinators, and their staff individualize the process and forms used for Individual Health Plans (IHPs). A sample IHP form and a handout with information about the principles that guide the care of children with chronic conditions in Head Start are included.

Motivational Interviewing Suite
Motivational Interviewing is an effective tool for promoting relationships and behavior change. The practice suite includes a series of videos capturing different and difficult conversations between professionals and family members regarding mental health issues. The videos break down the Motivational Interviewing process and demonstrate important strategies that could be used in a conversation. Use the viewer's guide and handouts to get more familiar with motivational interviewing strategies.

Relationship-based Practices: Talking with Families about Developmental Concerns
Discussing concerns about children’s development with their families is essential, but it can be challenging. Explore how relationship-based practices set the foundation for strong partnerships with families. Discover the importance of valuing families’ observations and input to fully understand their child’s development. Practice talking to a family about developmental concerns in an interactive simulation exercise.

Knowledge Application Level

Engaging Families from the Start
Building strong connections with families is the foundation for engaging families in young children's learning and education. Explore this home visiting simulation for tips to start conversations with families during the in-take visit. Read the course summary to get a list of dos and don'ts during the first home visit.

Goal Setting with Families
Goal-setting is an essential process for learning about families' hopes and dreams for their children. This simulation provides six relationship-based strategies to help acknowledge families' passions and strengths and support their goals as a family. Refer to the course summary and family engagement outcomes for more information.

Relationship-based Practices: Talking with Families about Developmental Concerns
Discussing concerns about children's development with their families is essential, but it can be challenging. Practice your skills in talking with families about developmental concerns with this interactive simulation. Refer to the resources on relationship-based practices and screening tools for more information to support your practice.

Starting with Strengths in Challenging Times
Acknowledging and building on family strengths helps both families and practitioners overcome challenges and work on goals for children. This case scenario simulation provides practical strategies practitioners can use to help families thrive. As Head Start programs adopt family-centered practices, practitioners can refer to the resources on family well-being and building partnerships to better understand the different challenges families may face and how to support them.

Mastery Level

CONNECT Module 4: Family-Professional Partnerships
Learn how to build trusting family-professional partnerships in this CONNECT Module. CONNECT Modules start with a real-life dilemma and include video demonstrations of the practice, a research brief, activities, and practice checklists. The modules are also available in Spanish.

SpecialQuest Multimedia Training Library: Building Relationships with Families
Explore nine learning sessions around the process of communicating, planning, and collaborating with families of young children with disabilities. The training materials include videos and ready-for-use handouts with practical tips and guidance.