What Are Families?


We all come from families. Families are big, small extended, nuclear, multi-generational, with one parent, two parents and grandparents. We live under one roof or many or none. A family can be as temporary as a few weeks, as permanent as forever. We become part of a family by birth, adoption, marriage or from a desire for mutual support.  As family members, we nurture, protect and influence each other.  Families are dynamic and are cultures onto themselves, with different values and unique ways of realizing dreams. Together, our families become the source of our rich cultural heritage and our spiritual diversity.  Each family has strengths and qualities that flow from individual members and from the family as a unit.  Our families create neighborhoods, communities, states and nations.


Family-Centered Care assures the health and well-being of children and their families through a respectful family-professional partnership. It honors the strengths, cultures, traditions and expertise that everyone brings to this relationship. Family-Centered Care is the standard of practice which results in high quality services.

The foundation of family-centered care is the partnership between families and professionals. Key to this partnership are the following principles:

·    Families and professionals work together in the best interest of the child
    and the family. As the child grows, s/he assumes a partnership role.

·    Everyone respects the skills and expertise brought to the relationship.

·    Trust is acknowledged as fundamental.

·    Communication and information sharing are open and objective.

·    Participants make decisions together.

·    There is a willingness to negotiate.

Based on this partnership, family-centered care:
1.    Acknowledges the family as the constant in a child’s life.
2.    Builds on family strengths.
3.    Supports the child in learning about and participating in his/her      
     care and decision-making.
4.    Honors cultural diversity and family traditions.
5.    Recognizes the importance of community-based services.
6.    Promotes an individual and developmental approach.
7.    Encourages family-to-family and peer support.
8.    Supports youth as they transition to adulthood.
9.    Develops policies, practices, and systems that are family-friendly
      and family-centered in all settings.
10.    Celebrates successes.

Sources: National Center for Family-Centered Care. Family-Centered Care for Children with Special Health Care Needs. (1989). Bethesda, MD: Association for the Care of Children’s Health.

Bishop, Woll and Arango (1993). Family/Professional Collaboration for Children with Special Health Care Needs and their Families.  Burlington, VT:  University of Vermont, Department of Social Work.

Family-Centered Care Projects 1 and 2 (2002-2004). Bishop, Woll, Arango. Algodones, NM; Algodones Associates

About ECAN

The Early Childhood Action Network is a network of early childhood champions and key stakeholders who work to develop strategies and actions to improve the well being of New Mexico's young children and their families. Learn more...


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Note: This website supports New Mexico projects related to early childhood. It is not an official site of the State of New Mexico.