Early Childhood: Family-Centered Services


Instructor Name:          Dr. Marrea Winnega

Facilitator Name:          Aumony Dahl, M.Ed.

Phone:                         509-891-7219

Office Hours:               8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday - Friday

Email:                          aumony_dahl@virtualeduc.com

Address:                      Virtual Education Software

                                    16201 E Indiana Ave, Suite 1450

                                    Spokane, WA 99216

Technical Support:       support@virtualeduc.com



Welcome to Early Childhood: Family-Centered Services, a course that seeks to promote the development of thoughtful, knowledgeable, effective educators for a diverse society. The course provides conceptual frameworks for working with families of children from a variety of backgrounds.  Course content places an emphasis on family-centered practices designed to help early childhood professionals involve and support families in the care and education of children.


This computer-based instruction course is a self-supporting program that provides instruction, structured practice, and evaluation all on your home or school computer.  Technical support information can be found in the Help section of your course.


Course Materials (Online)

Title:                            Early Childhood: Family-Centered Services

Instructor Name:          Dr. Marrea Winnega

Facilitator Name:          Aumony Dahl, M.Ed.

Publisher:                     Virtual Education Software, inc. 2008, Revised 2012, Revised 2015


Academic Integrity Statement

The structure and format of most distance-learning courses presume a high level of personal and academic integrity in completion and submission of coursework. Individuals enrolled in a distance-learning course are expected to adhere to the following standards of academic conduct.


Academic Work

Academic work submitted by the individual (such as papers, assignments, reports, tests) shall be the student’s own work or appropriately attributed, in part or in whole, to its correct source. Submission of commercially prepared (or group prepared) materials as if they are one’s own work is unacceptable.


Aiding Honesty in Others

The individual will encourage honesty in others by refraining from providing materials or information to another person with knowledge that these materials or information will be used improperly.


Violations of these academic standards will result in the assignment of a failing grade and subsequent loss of credit for the course.







Level of Application

This course is designed as one of a five-part series on early childhood education.  Upon completion of the five-course series you will have covered most competencies found in a Child Development Associates (CDA) program, however, completion of all five courses does not earn participants a CDA unless they are formally enrolled in a program that recognizes these courses within that program.  This course specifically covers competencies 1-9, 12, and 13 (it is recommended you check on individual state competencies), which all relate to the establishment of well-run, purposeful programs for young children that are responsive to individual needs and advance the development of the whole child.  This course also incorporates the applicable Division for Early Childhood (DEC) recommended practices in early intervention/early childhood special education that were recently released.  It is designed for anyone planning programs for young children: child-care providers, early childhood educators, and health care or social services providers, to name a few. 


Expected Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course students will be able to:

·         Working knowledge of the major frameworks for understanding about family systems, transitions, and diversity.

·         Competence in communicating about the role of families in promoting optimal growth, development, and learning from pre-birth to age five. 

·         Ability to seek out appropriate local, regional and national resources when working with families facing special challenges (e.g. children who have teenaged or divorced parents, are newly immigrated, have experienced abuse/neglect and/or poverty, or have special needs). 

·         Skill in designing appropriate professional practices related to enhancing and assessing positive staff-parent communication and involvement.


Course Description

Family-Centered Services is a continuum of services that employ the family-centered practice approach to promote the primary goals of child welfare: safety, permanency, and well-being.  A family-centered practice approach is a way of organizing and delivering assistance and support to families based on interconnected beliefs and attitudes that shape the program philosophy and behavior of personnel as they organize and deliver services to children and families. 


Family-centered service is an approach to service delivery that grew out of family preservation attempts in the mid-seventies to prevent out-of-home placements of minors. Since then, family-centered services has expanded from a particular type of service to an overall philosophy for the delivery of services to families.  FCS currently includes a wide range of programs from family support prevention services to family preservation, for families who are dealing with extremely difficult situations.  Family support is largely a preventative service that focuses on promoting healthy family relationships and child development.  A family support model may include programs such as peer support groups, Head Start, parent training, and home visitation. Family preservation, on the other hand, is more concerned with preventing family breakdown when serious problems arise by providing more intensive services that help families resolve specific issues (Fuller & Wells, 2000).


While there are several similar, yet differing, definitions of family-centered services that exist in fields such as social services, child welfare, mental health, and early childhood special education, there is consensus on the principles and values that characterize family-centered services.  Descriptors such as “strengths-based, consumer driven, family systems, partnerships, empowerment, enhancement, interdependence, proactive, and collaborative relationships” are all found in many of these definitions (Pletcher & McBride, 2003).


For the purpose of this class, we will use the terms Family-Centered Services and Family-Centered Practice interchangeably, to refer to a way of working with families across service systems to enhance their capacity to care for and protect their children, and strengthen their ability to manage their own lives.  Family-centered services focus on the needs and welfare of children within the context of their families and communities.  These services are accessible and individualized, and are available to families that may not initially seek services.


Family-centered service providers reach out to families, conveying the message that all families can benefit from support, and that families can learn from one another.


Family-centered practice recognizes the strengths of family relationships and builds on these strengths to achieve optimal outcomes.  Family is defined broadly to include birth, blended, kinship, and foster and adoptive families.  Family-centered practice includes a range of strategies, including advocating for improved conditions for families, supporting them, stabilizing those in crisis, reunifying those who are separated, building new families, and connecting families to the resources that will sustain them in the future.


Student Expectations 

As a student you will be expected to:

·         Complete all four information sections showing a competent understanding of the material presented in each section.

·         Complete all four section examinations, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.  You must obtain an overall score of 70% or higher, with no individual exam score below 50%, and successfully complete ALL writing assignments to pass this course. *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete a review of any section on which your examination score was below 50%.

·         Retake any examination, after completing an information review, to increase that examination score to a minimum of 50%, making sure to also be achieving an overall exam score of a minimum 70% (maximum of three attempts). *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete all course journal article and essay writing assignments with the minimum word count shown for each writing assignment.

·         Complete a course evaluation form at the end of the course.


Course Overview

Chapter 1: Introduction to Family-Centered Services

Chapter One defines what is meant by Family-Centered Services (FCS) and examines the important role it plays in Early Childhood Education (ECE).  We consider the philosophy, core values, and essential elements of best practice in FCS.  In addition, we identify several key principles that guide the delivery of Family-Centered Services and provide practical examples of how to implement each principle for those providing services to families.


Chapter 2: Understanding Families

Chapter Two takes a more in-depth look at how we can work together to connect the ECE profession’s standards of quality to the urgent needs of families. This chapter discusses the complexity of family dynamics by examining several factors that contribute to family diversity, such as ethnicity, race, culture, economic differences, gender role identity, religiosity, and geographic region.  We discuss the practical implications of such factors and look at family strengths, functions, and structures. 


Chapter 3 - Working Together: A Shared Responsibility

Chapter Three takes a closer look at several stress factors, such as family violence, substance abuse, homelessness, disability, serious illness, and immigration, that many families in crisis may face.  We discuss the impact of such stressors on both family and child, and identify various ways in which early childhood educators can support and encourage them in their time of need.  


Chapter 4 - Building Communities of Care

Chapter Four focuses on the need for Early Childhood Educators and care providers to provide parents with child-rearing information and support.  In order to do this, we examine the critical processes for child development, discuss how to develop and implement needs assessments for families with young children, and describe the dimensions of high-quality parent education programs.  This chapter also identifies critical components of parenting and discusses methods of parent education.



At the end of each course chapter, you will be expected to complete an examination designed to assess your knowledge. You may take these exams a total of three times. Your last score will save, not the highest score. After your third attempt, each examination will lock and not allow further access. The average from your exam scores will be printed on your certificate.  However, this is not your final grade since your required writing assignments have not been reviewed.  Exceptionally written or poorly written required writing assignments, or violation of the academic integrity policy in the course syllabus, will affect your grade.  As this is a self-paced computerized instruction program, you may review course information as often as necessary. You will not be able to exit any examinations until you have answered all questions. If you try to exit the exam before you complete all questions, your information will be lost. You are expected to complete the entire exam in one sitting.


Writing Assignments

All assignments are reviewed and may impact your final grade.  Exceptionally or poorly written assignments, or violation of the Academic Integrity Policy (see course syllabus for policy), will affect your grade. Fifty percent of your grade is determined by your writing assignments, and your overall exam score determines the other fifty percent.  Refer to the Essay Grading Guidelines which were sent as an attachment with your original course link. You should also refer to the Course Syllabus Addendum which was sent as an attachment with your original course link, to determine if you have any writing assignments in addition to the Critical Thinking Questions (CTQ) and Journal Article Summations (JAS).  If you do, the Essay Grading Guidelines will also apply.

Your writing assignments must meet the minimum word count and are not to include the question or your final citations as part of your word count.  In other words, the question and citations are not to be used as a means to meet the minimum word count.


Critical Thinking Questions

There are four CTQs that you are required to complete. You  will need to write a minimum of 500 words (maximum 1,000) per essay. You  should explain how the information that you gained from the course will be applied and clearly convey a strong understanding of the course content as it relates to each CTQ.  To view the questions, click on REQUIRED ESSAY and choose the CTQ that you are ready to complete; this will bring up a screen where you may enter your essay.  Prior to course submission, you may go back at any point to edit your essay, but you must be certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits.


You must click SAVE before you write another essay or move on to another part of the course.

Journal Article Summations

You are required to write, in your own words, a summary on a total of three peer-reviewed or scholarly journal articles (one article per JAS), written by an author with a Ph.D., Ed.D. or similar, on the topic outlined within each JAS section in the “Required Essays” portion of the course  (blogs, abstracts, news articles or similar are not acceptable). Your article choice must relate specifically to the discussion topic listed in each individual JAS. You will choose a total of three relevant articles (one article per JAS) and write a thorough summary of the information presented in each article (you must write a minimum of  200 words with a 400 word maximum per JAS). Be sure to provide the URL or the journal name, volume, date, and any other critical information to allow the facilitator to access and review each article. 


To write your summary, click on REQUIRED ESSAYS and choose the JAS that you would like to complete. A writing program will automatically launch where you can write your summary. When you are ready to stop, click SAVE.  Prior to course submission you may go back at any point to edit your summaries but you must be certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits. For more information on the features of this assignment, please consult the HELP menu.

You must click SAVE before you write another summary or move on to another part of the course.


Facilitator Description

Early Childhood: Family-Centered Services has been developed by Aumony Dahl MS/ED the instructor of record. Aumony received her Master’s degree in Exceptional Children from Western Washington University.  She is certified to teach in K-12 Special Education with an additional endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education.  Aumony began her career working as an elementary special education teacher for several years.  She is currently an instructor in the Special Education Department at Western Washington University, teaching a variety of classes on topics related to early childhood special education, students with complex special needs, assessment and evaluation, and program planning.  Aumony is also a supervisor for practicum students who are training to become teachers.  In addition to this course, Aumony has authored another course in this Early Childhood series called Early Childhood: Program Planning.


Instructor Description

Dr. Marrea Winnega, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with 20 years of experience in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology in the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Psychiatry. She consults for schools and agencies serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Asperger’s Disorder. She has also conducted numerous workshops, in-services, and trainings throughout the United States.  Please contact Professor Dahl if you have course content or examination questions.


Contacting the Facilitator

You may contact the facilitator by emailing Professor Dahl at aumony_dahl@virtualeduc.com or calling her at 509-891-7219, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. PST. Phone messages will be answered within 24 hours. Phone conferences will be limited to ten minutes per student, per day, given that this is a self-paced instructional program. Please do not contact the instructor about technical problems, course glitches or other issues that involve the operation of the course.  Please contact Professor Dahl if you have course content or examination questions.


Technical Questions

If you have questions or problems related to the operation of this course, please try everything twice. If the problem persists please check our support pages for FAQs and known issues at www.virtualeduc.com and also the Help section of your course.


If you need personal assistance then email support@virtualeduc.com or call (509) 891-7219.  When contacting technical support, please know your course version number (it is located at the bottom left side of the Welcome Screen) and your operating system, and be seated in front of the computer at the time of your call. 


Minimum Computer Requirements

Please refer to VESi’s website: www.virtualeduc.com or contact VESi if you have further questions about the compatibility of your operating system.


Refer to the addendum regarding Grading Criteria, Course Completion Information, Items to be Submitted and how to submit your completed information. The addendum will also note any additional course assignments that you may be required to complete that are not listed in this syllabus.


Bibliography (Suggested Readings)

Arnold, L. (1980). Preparing young children for science. New York: Schocken.

Bredekamp, S., & Copple, C. (1997). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs: Revised edition. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Byington, T. A., & Whitby, P. S. (2011). Empowering families during the early intervention planning process. Young Exceptional Children, 14(4), 44–56. doi:10.1177/1096250611428878

Calkins, L. (1986). The art of teaching writing. Exeter, NH: Heinemann. New York: Longman.

Caspe, M. (2014). Bridging worlds: Family engagement in the transition to kindergarten. Retrieved from http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/publications-series/family-engagement-teaching-cases/bridging-worlds-family-engagement-in-the-transition-to-kindergarten

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: www.cdc.gov

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Strategic direction for child maltreatment prevention: Preventing child maltreatment through the promotion of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships between children and caregivers. Atlanta, GA: Author. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pub/CM_factsheet.html

Chaille, C., & Britain, L. (1997). The young child as scientist: A constructivist approach to early childhood science education (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Christianakis, M. (2011). Parents as “help labor”: Inner-city teachers’ narratives of parent involvement. Teacher Education Quarterly, 38(4), 157–178. Retrieved from http://www.teqjournal.org/TEQ%20Website/Back%20Issues

Clay, M. (1998). By different paths to common outcomes. York, ME: Stenhouse.

Colbert, C. (1997). Visual arts in the developmentally appropriate integrated curriculum. In C. Hart, D. Burts, & R. Charlesworth (Eds.), Integrated curriculum and developmentally appropriate practice. (pp. 201-224). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.


DEC/NAEYC. (2009). Early childhood inclusion: A joint position statement of the Division

for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young

Children (NAEYC). Retrieved from DEC website: http://www.dec-sped.org/papers


Division for Early Childhood. (2014). DEC recommended practices in early intervention/early childhood special                                education 2014. Retrieved from http://www.dec-sped.org/recommendedpractices


Douglass, A. (2011). Improving family engagement: The organizational context and its influence on partnering with parents in formal child care settings. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 13(2). Retrieved from http://files

Edwards, V. J., Anda, R. F., Dube, S. R., Dong, M., Chapman, D. F., & Felitti, V. J. (2005). The wide-ranging health consequences of adverse childhood experiences. In K. Kendall-Tackett & Sarah Giacomoni (Eds.), Victimization of children and youth: Patterns of abuse, response strategies. Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute.

Edwards, V. J., Holden, G. W., Anda, R. F., & Felitti, V. J. (2003). Experiencing multiple forms of childhood maltreatment and adult mental health: Results from the adverse childhood experiences (ACE) study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(8), 1453-1460.

Fang, X., Brown, D. S., Florence, C., & Mercy, J. (2012). The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States and implications for prevention. Child Abuse and Neglect, 36(2), 156-165.

Gabbard, C. (1992). Lifelong motor development. Dubuque, IA: Brown.

Gregg, K., Rugg, M., & Souto-Manning, M. (2011). Fostering family-centered practices through a family-created portfolio. School Community Journal, 21(1), 53–70. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/1377721

Good, R. (1977). How children learn science. New York, NY: Macmillan.

Haeseler, L. (2011). Strategies for building social support for families. Exchange (198), 82–85.

Hindman, A. H., & Morrison, F. J. (2011). Family involvement and educator outreach in Head Start: Nature, extent, and contributions to early literacy skills. Elementary School Journal, 111(3), 359–386. doi:10.1086/657651

Jones, E. (1970). In L. Dittmann (Ed.), Curriculum is what happens. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Jones, E., & Nimmo, J. (1994). Emergent curriculum. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Kroeger, J., & Lash, M. (2011). Asking, listening, and learning: Toward a more thorough method of inquiry in home-school relations. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 27(2), 268–277. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2010.08.010

Kostelnik, M., Soderman, A., & Whiren, A. (1999). Developmentally appropriate curriculum: Best practices in early childhood education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Kreidler, W. (1984). Creative conflict resolution. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman.

Krogh, S., & Slentz, K. (2001). The early childhood curriculum. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Kyle, D. W. (2011). Families’ goals, school involvement, and children’s academic achievement: A follow-up study thirteen years later. School Community Journal, 21(2), 9–24.

Lopez, M. E., & Caspe, M. (2014). Family engagement in anywhere, anytime learning. Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE) Newsletter, 6(3). Retrieved from http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/family-engagement-in-anywhere-anytime-learning

Madsen, W. C. (2009). Collaborative helping: A practice framework for family-centered services. Family Process, 48, 103-116.

McEwen, B. S. (2007). Physiology and neurobiology of stress and adaptation: Central role of the brain. Physiology Review, 87(3), 873–904.

Morrow, L. (1993). Literacy development in the early years. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). (1998). Learning to read and write: Developmentally appropriate practices for young children. Young Children, 53(4), 30-46.

Norris, K. L. (2011). Beyond the textbook: Building relationships between teachers and diverse families. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(2), 58–61.

Raths, L., Harmin, M., & Simon, S. (1966). Values and teaching. Columbus, OH: Merrill.

Schirrmacher, R. (1998). Art and creative development for young children. Albany, NY: Delmar.

Sunal, C. (1990). Early childhood social studies. Columbus, OH: Merrill.

Taylor, B. (1999). Science everywhere: Opportunities for very young children. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Weiss, H. B. (2014). Family engagement for the 21st century [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.kbs-RB/05%29_Pictures,_documents_and_external_sites/13%29_Speech/2014_TFIEY_HWeis.pdf

Wildenger, L. K., & McIntyre, L. (2011). Family concerns and involvement during kindergarten transition. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20(4), 387–396. doi: 10.1007/s10826-010-9403-6


Zero to Three Organization  (http://www.zerotothree.org)
A primary site for information on healthy development during the first years of life.

National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (http://www.nectac.org)
NECTAC is the national early childhood technical assistance center supported by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs.

ERIC Early Childhood Resources and Link (http://ericeece.org/)
An excellent source when you need to research a topic related to Early Childhood.  A large amount of information related to families is included here.

American Academy of Pediatrics (http://www.aap.org)
This site offers child health information to parents and professionals.


Center for Parent Information and Resources. (2014). http://www.parentcenterhub.org/

The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) serves as a central resource of information and products to the community of Parent Training Information (PTI) Centers and the Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs), so that they can focus their efforts on serving families of children with disabilities.

Council for Exceptional Children (http://www.cec.sped.org)
A professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for people working with and advocating for students with special needs.

High/Scope Educational Research Foundation (http://www.highscope.org)
This foundation is an independent non-profit research, development, training, and public advocacy organization to promote the learning and development of children.

I am Your Child (http://www.iamyourchild.org)
This site is primarily for students and families interested in information about infants and toddlers. The site was created by the Rob Reiner foundation in order to promote public awareness of the importance of early childhood development, largely in response to brain development research.  The Foundation has developed a series of videos and CD-Roms in English and Spanish that can be purchased for $5. This is a valuable resource for sharing with parents and community members.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (http://naeyc.org)
An organization concerned with the quality of early education for young children. NAEYC provides a number of Position Statements that are important for all ECE specialists to familiarize themselves with.

Early Head Start National Resource Center @ Zero to Three (http://www.ehsnrc.org)
A large amount of information related to ECE, with some topics emphasizing family services.

Floor Time- Stanley Greenspan, M.D. (http://home.sprintmail.com/~janettevance/floor_time.htm)
This site provides an overview of the work of Stanley Greenspan and is particularly relevant to class discussion of parent/child interactions in fostering emotional development.

Vort Corporation (http://www.vort.com)
This site is a company that publishes Information for Parents and Professionals working with infants and young children.

Harvard Family Research Project (2014) http://www.hfrp.org/

Course content is updated every three years. Due to this update timeline, some URL links may no longer be active or may have changed. Please type the title of the organization into the command line of any Internet browser search window and you will be able to find whether the URL link is still active or any new link to the corresponding organization's web home page.

11/11/16 JN