Check In and Partner with Families

Practice Area 1

When you regularly check in with families, you build relationships. When you regularly and consistently check in to see how families are doing and learn how their children are reacting to issues that may impact family well-being, you then strengthen these relationships. An important part of checking in includes partnering with families to respond to any concerns that emerge.

Examples of How to Use This Practice

  • Take time during each visit or conversation to ask how each family member is doing.
    Invite to important conversations all individuals the family wants to include (e.g., conversations about goal setting or sensitive topics).
  • Talk with each family member about individual beliefs, attitudes, values, strengths, and needs. Use a supportive, nonjudgmental approach that is culturally and linguistically responsive to families of different races and ethnicities.
  • Understand that current or previous trauma, institutional racism, and discrimination may influence families' beliefs, attitudes, and values.
  • Engage families in conversations about how to overcome barriers to services that can support their well-being. For example, work with families to identify barriers and plan to overcome them. You can also identify mental health providers that align with families' preferences, values, and needs, including transportation and child care. Additionally, you can partner with families to apply for financial support and to identify affordable services.
  • Reflect on how your own beliefs, values, and attitudes may be different from or similar to that of a family. Consider how such differences might impact your relationship with family members. Identify sensitive, responsive ways to manage these differences when working with families. Reach out to a supervisor, infant and early childhood mental health consultant, or experienced colleague if something troubling comes up for you and you would benefit from support.
  • Prepare for conversations with families about sensitive topics:
    • Partner with families from the beginning. Develop positive and goal-directed relationships before discussing sensitive topics. Recognize that developing trust with each family may take time.
    • Identify questions families may have and plan how you will respond to them.
    • Practice sensitive conversations with colleagues and supervisors and ask for feedback.
    • Use mindfulness practices to calm and focus yourself before going into the conversation.
    • Create a space that is emotionally safe by ensuring consistent, warm, inviting, and supportive interactions with families. This includes being on time to visits and limiting distractions during interactions with families.

Reflection Questions

  • How can you prepare before you talk to the family about their beliefs, values, and views on family well-being?
  • What are your own beliefs, values, and views on family well-being? How are they similar or different from those of the family you are working with?
  • How can you partner with the family to support their well-being when their beliefs, values, and views are different from your own?
  • How could discussions about family well-being be integrated into team and program-level meetings?