Updated January 27, 2017
Occasionally, after reflecting on your observations of a child, you may notice some “red flags” or atypical development. You may need to talk with a child’s family about the need for gathering more information. Developmental screening tools will provide more clues on how a child is progressing and where the challenges are. Sometimes developmental screenings provide the information required to request early intervention, such as specific supports for targeted delays, if needed. By catching challenges early you can be instrumental in getting the help a child needs for optimum growth.
You are required by Washington state law, to advise the family of their child's progress and issues relating to developmental needs and program practices. These conversations can be difficult.
Following is a list of ways you might prepare yourself as a professional:
- Sharing observation data with a child’s family can be painful and intimidating. Often you are the first person to acknowledge atypical development about a child. Families may or may not have noticed that anything is different. Often they become defensive and sensitive, making it difficult. Working with a co-worker to script your discussion is a good way to start.
- Good documentation of your observations and knowledge of typical child development will help you to share the information objectively. With observations based on Developmental Guidelines, you can confidently share your collected data with parents knowing that it is based on evidence, not opinion.
- Knowing the local resources for referral is essential to help families understand what their next steps are. Have a list of local resources available so you will be able to connect families with additional information or help. It is always a good idea to call the resources in your area and establish a personal contact and positive relationship. You can then refer families with confidence that they will be in good care.
- As discussed earlier, it is essential as a professional in this field to keep all observations and referrals confidential. Information about your observations should only be shared with the child’s family, approved co-teachers and/or director. You must maintain confidentiality between the program and the child’s family regarding each child’s observation and assessment. Make sure you know where confidential observation records are kept, or create a private place to keep all observation data on children.
Child Records and Information
You must keep on the premises organized records of the children enrolled in your center. Each child’s records must be readily available to the director or in the director’s absence, the staff person in charge. The records must be easily accessible in case of an emergency, but must also be kept in an area of the center where they are not accessible to parents or visitors to the center. All child records should be treated as confidential. It is easiest to keep a separate file for each enrolled child and keep all of that child’s records and forms in the file. "
Optional Online Resources for Further Study