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As Early Childhood Educators, What Are Our Ethical Responsibilities to Families?

Stephanie Bivins, MEd

August 15, 2023



As early childhood educators, what are our ethical responsibilities to families?


As early childhood educators, we hold ethical responsibilities towards families encompassing a range of principles and actions. Our commitment to these responsibilities ensures the well-being and holistic development of the children under our care. These ethical responsibilities include:

  1. Honor Families: We recognize and honor the significance of families in a child's life. We acknowledge their role as primary caregivers and understand that they are the child's first teachers and advocates.

  2. Develop a Relationship of Mutual Trust: Building a foundation of trust with families is essential. Through open communication and transparency, we foster an environment where families feel comfortable sharing their concerns, values, and aspirations for their child.

  3. Respect Dignity and Preference: We treat each family with respect and cultural sensitivity. Recognizing and valuing diverse backgrounds, traditions, and perspectives, we create an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for all families.

  4. Acknowledge Rights: Families have rights as partners in their child's education. We ensure that families know their rights, including the right to be informed and involved in decisions regarding their child's learning and well-being.

  5. Involve Decisions: We actively involve families in the educational journey of their child. Collaborative decision-making, where families' insights and perspectives are considered, helps create an enriching and tailored learning experience.

  6. Listen and Build Family Strength: We listen attentively to families' concerns, questions, and ideas. By understanding their unique strengths and challenges, we work together to provide the best possible support for the child's development.

  7. Enhance ECE Knowledge: We continuously seek to expand our knowledge and skills in early childhood education. By staying informed about the latest research and best practices, we ensure that our interactions with families are rooted in evidence-based approaches.

  8. Be a Resource: As educators, we serve as a resource for families. We provide information, guidance, and support on child development, learning strategies, and community resources to empower families in their parenting roles.

In essence, our ethical responsibilities towards families revolve around fostering a collaborative partnership that centers on the well-being of the child. By embracing these principles, we recognize the invaluable role families play in a child's life and work diligently to empower, guide, involve, and honor them in the educational process. It's important to remember that while we contribute to a child's growth and development, the ultimate responsibility for the child rests with their family.

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course Ethics in Action in Early Childhoodpresented by Stephanie Bivins, MEd.

stephanie bivins

Stephanie Bivins, MEd

Stephanie Bivins has been in education for over 14 years, has a master’s degree in early childhood education (ECE), and was a prior Center Director, bringing the center to high quality. Stephanie is a credentialed coach, trainer, and infant toddler specialist. She coordinated a community initiative in an effort to increase quality and capacity. Stephanie is the Director of the Colorado Early Childhood Council, leading current strategic efforts to impact early childhood.

Related Courses

Ethics in Action in Early Childhood
Presented by Stephanie Bivins, MEd


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This course provides guidance on utilizing the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) ethics to guide best practices. Participants walk through scenarios to practice implementing research-based ways to guide difficult, everyday educator decisions.

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