Partnership with Families

The INSPIRE ACTION framework was developed to assist those responsible for administrative oversight of local early childhood special education programs to identify and celebrate strong program components and to identify those program components most in need of improvement. The development was sparked by recognition that many local program leaders (e.g., Directors of Special Education, elementary principals, some special education coordinators) have limited knowledge of early childhood special education and are unable to consistently determine the presence or absence of ECSE program quality.

As you look at the resources and tools provided here, consider:
  • What is the main focus and purpose of each resource?
  • How does this information align with what you currently know and do in your work with young children and families?
  • How will you integrate this information into your work?
  • How might you share or apply this information in working with: Children? Families? Colleagues?


“Partnership with Families” describes efforts of parents and other family members to promote their children’s healthy development and learning through activities that can be encouraged by educators in child care, preschool and school settings (Smith, Robbins, Stagman and Mathur, 2013). For the purpose of this definition, Partnership with Families includes parents or other family members participating on IFSP or IEP teams as active decision-makers but does not include participation on committees, volunteering in the classroom, workgroups, etc.

Professional Standards

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services / U.S. Department of Education

Policy Statement on Family Engagement from the Early Years to the Early Grades

Foundational Resources: Understanding the Basics

MN Help Me Grow
Minnesota’s Help Me Grow initiative provides information and resources that will help parents, professionals, and community members identify children who may be experiencing delays in their development.  The Help Me Grow site is a go-to resource, equipping those who interact with young children (birth to kindergarten) to better understand and monitor each child’s development.

Minnesota Department of Education

The Family Outcomes Survey (Part C Version) is given to families of infants or toddlers with disabilities by their primary service provider. The survey is given to all children who have been served by Part C for six months or more, as the child turns age three or is exiting Part C for any reason. These documents help families understand why data is being collected and how the information will be used.

This document is a summary of rights to share with families.

Readiness Resources: Deepen Knowledge and Prepare to Implement

Learn about building trusting family-professional partnerships when working with families of young children.

Developed in partnership with Head Start, this framework is a vital tool for early childhood education and care providers seeking to build effective engagement strategies. While the framework is intended for Head Start and Early Head Start programs, its lessons are useful and applicable to a much broader audience of early childhood programs.

Implementation Resources: Apply and Practice

Designed to help teachers build positive relationships with families, this Module highlights the diversity of families and addresses the factors that school personnel should understand about working with the families of children with disabilities.

The Family Engagement Inventory (FEI) is designed to assist professionals in child welfare, behavioral health, early education, education, and juvenile justice to learn how family engagement is defined and implemented across these fields of practice.

Based in existing research and best practices, the Framework is designed to act as a scaffold for the development of family engagement strategies, policies, and program initiatives designed to build capacity among educators and families to partner with one another around student success.

Extending Practice: Resources

MN Thrive Initiative

  • Professional materials: Includes resources to share with translators to help make sure that communication, particularly with items connected to special education, is accurate and complete.
  • Parent materials: Includes information for parents about assessment and the special education system here in Minnesota.
  • “Opening Doors” video: Listen to immigrant parents share their experiences in learning about their children’s disabilities, and trying to learn about and negotiate the ins and outs of the early childhood special education system here in the U.S.A.

PDF-Guided Resources and Support

Please contact your regional PDF if you have investigated all resources provided here, but continue to have questions or concerns related to this core component of INSPIRE ACTION.

If you have an additional resource that supports professional development in this core component, please share it with your regional PDF. Your participation in this site's continued growth is encouraged and welcome!