Collaborating with Families

Perspectives & Resources



By completing the entire Perspectives & Resources section and reviewing the accompanying activities, the learner will:

  • Recognize the diversity of families and the importance of involving families in students’ education
  • Understand the issues that most affect families who have children with disabilities
  • Be familiar with a number of practical ideas for creating a positive partnership with parents of children with disabilities


This IRIS Module aligns with the following licensure and program standards and topic areas. Click the arrows below to learn more.

CAEP standards for the accreditation of educators are designed to improve the quality and effectiveness not only of new instructional practitioners but also the evidence-base used to assess those qualities in the classroom.

  • Standard 1: Content and Pedagogical Knowledge

CEC standards encompass a wide range of ethics, standards, and practices created to help guide those who have taken on the crucial role of educating students with disabilities.

  • Standard 1: Learner Development and Individual Learning Differences
  • Standard 2: Learning Environments
  • Standard 3: Curricular Content Knowledge
  • Standard 4: Assessment
  • Standard 5: Instructional Planning and Strategies
  • Standard 6: Professional Learning and Practice
  • Standard 7: Collaboration

The DEC Recommended Practices are designed to help improve the learning outcomes of young children (birth through age five) who have or who are at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities. Please note that, because the IRIS Center has not yet developed resources aligned with DEC Topic 8: Transition, that topic is not currently listed on this page.


  • L1. Leaders create a culture and a climate in which practitioners feel a sense of belonging and want to support the organization’s mission and goals.
  • L2. Leaders promote adherence to and model the DEC Code of Ethics, DEC Position Statements and Papers, and the DEC Recommended Practices.
  • L3. Leaders develop and implement policies, structures, and practices that promote shared decision making with practitioners and families.
  • L4. Leaders belong to professional association(s) and engage in ongoing evidence-based professional development.
  • L5. Leaders advocate for policies and resources that promote the implementation of the DEC Position Statements and Papers and the DEC Recommended Practices.
  • L6. Leaders establish partnerships across levels (state to local) and with their counterparts in other systems and agencies to create coordinated and inclusive systems of services and supports
  • L7. Leaders develop, refine, and implement policies and procedures that create the conditions for practitioners to implement the DEC Recommended Practices.
  • L8. Leaders work across levels and sectors to secure fiscal and human resources and maximize the use of these resources to successfully implement the DEC Recommended Practices.
  • L9. Leaders develop and implement an evidence-based professional development system or approach that provides practitioners a variety of supports to ensure they have the knowledge and skills needed to implement the DEC Recommended Practices.
  • L10. Leaders ensure practitioners know and follow professional standards and all applicable laws and regulations governing service provision.
  • L11. Leaders collaborate with higher education, state licensing and certification agencies, practitioners, professional associations, and other stakeholders to develop or revise state competencies that align with DEC, Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and other national professional standards.
  • L12. Leaders collaborate with stakeholders to collect and use data for program management and continuous program improvement and to examine the effectiveness of services and supports in imp roving child and family outcomes.
  • L13. Leaders promote efficient and coordinated service delivery for children and families by creating the conditions for practitioners from multiple disciplines and the family to work together as a team.
  • L14. Leaders collaborate with other agencies and programs to develop and implement ongoing community-wide screening procedures to identify and refer children who may need additional evaluation and services.


  • A1. Practitioners work with the family to identify family preferences for assessment processes.
  • A2. Practitioners work as a team with the family and other professionals to gather assessment information.
  • A3. Practitioners use assessment materials and strategies that are appropriate for the child’s age and level of development and accommodate the child’s sensory, physical, communication, cultural, linguistic, social, and emotional characteristics.
  • A4. Practitioners conduct assessments that include all areas of development and behavior to learn about the child’s strengths, needs, preferences, and interests.
  • A5. Practitioners conduct assessments in the child’s dominant language and in additional languages if the child is learning more than one language.
  • A6. Practitioners use a variety of methods, including observation and interviews, to gather assessment information from multiple sources, including the child’s family and other significant individuals in the child’s life.
  • A7. Practitioners obtain information about the child’s skills in daily activities, routines, and environments such as home, center, and community.
  • A8. Practitioners use clinical reasoning in addition to assessment results to identify the child’s current levels of functioning and to determine the child’s eligibility and plan for instruction.
  • A9. Practitioners implement systematic ongoing assessment to identify learning targets, plan activities, and monitor the child’s progress to revise instruction as needed.
  • A10. Practitioners use assessment tools with sufficient sensitivity to detect child progress, especially for the child with significant support needs.
  • A11. Practitioners report assessment results so that they are understandable and useful to families.


  • E1. Practitioners provide services and supports in natural and inclusive environments during daily routines and activities to promote the child’s access to and participation in learning experiences.
  • E2. Practitioners consider Universal Design for Learning principles to create accessible environments.
  • E3. Practitioners work with the family and other adults to modify and adapt the physical, social, and temporal environments to promote each child’s access to and participation in learning experiences.
  • E4. Practitioners work with families and other adults to identify each child’s needs for assistive technology to promote access to and participation in learning experiences.
  • E5. Practitioners work with families and other adults to acquire or create appropriate assistive technology to promote each child’s access to and participation in learning experiences.
  • E6. Practitioners create environments that provide opportunities for movement and regular physical activity to maintain or improve fitness, wellness, and development across domains.


  • F1. Practitioners build trusting and respectful partnerships with the family through interactions that are sensitive and responsive to cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic diversity.
  • F2. Practitioners provide the family with up-to-date, comprehensive and unbiased information in a way that the family can understand and use to make informed choices and decisions.
  • F3. Practitioners are responsive to the family’s concerns, priorities, and changing life circumstances.
  • F4. Practitioners and the family work together to create outcomes or goals, develop individualized plans, and implement practices that address the family’s priorities and concerns and the child’s strengths and needs.
  • F5. Practitioners support family functioning, promote family confidence and competence, and strengthen family-child relationships by acting in ways that recognize and build on family strengths and capacities.
  • F6. Practitioners engage the family in opportunities that support and strengthen pa renting knowledge and skills and parenting competence and confidence in ways that are flexible, individualized, and tailored to the family’s preferences.
  • F7. Practitioners work with the family to identify, access, and use formal and informal resources and supports to achieve family-identified outcomes or goals.
  • F8. Practitioners provide the family of a young child who has or is at risk for developmental delay/disability, and who is a dual language learner, with information about the benefits of learning in multiple languages for the child’s growth and development.
  • F9. Practitioners help families know and understand their rights.
  • F10. Practitioners inform families about leadership and advocacy skill-building opportunities and encourage those who are interested to participate.


  • INS1. Practitioners, with the family, identify each child’s strengths, preferences, and interests to engage the child in active learning.
  • INS2. Practitioners, with the family, identify skills to target for instruction that help a child become adaptive, competent, socially connected, and engaged and that promote learning in natural and inclusive environments.
  • INS3. Practitioners gather and use data to inform decisions about individualized instruction.
  • INS4. Practitioners plan for and provide the level of support, accommodations, and adaptations needed for the child to access, participate, and learn within and across activities and routines.
  • INS5. Practitioners embed instruction within and across routines, activities, and environments to provide contextually relevant learning opportunities.
  • INS6. Practitioners use systematic instructional strategies with fidelity to teach skills and to promote child engagement and learning.
  • INS7. Practitioners use explicit feedback and consequences to increase child engagement, play, and skills.
  • INS8. Practitioners use peer-mediated intervention to teach skills and to promote child engagement and learning.
  • INS9. Practitioners use functional assessment and related prevention, promotion, and intervention strategies across environments to prevent and address challenging behavior.
  • INS10. Practitioners implement the frequency, intensity, and duration of instruction needed to address the child’s phase and pace of learning or the level of support needed by the family to achieve the child’s outcomes or goals.
  • INS11. Practitioners provide instructional support for young children with disabilities who are dual language learners to assist them in learning English and in continuing to develop skills through the use of their home language.
  • INS12. Practitioners use and adapt specific instructional strategies that are effective for dual language learners when teaching English to children with disabilities.
  • INS13. Practitioners use coaching or consultation strategies with primary caregivers or other adults to facilitate positive adult-child interactions and instruction intentionally designed to promote child learning and development.


  • INT1. Practitioners promote the child’s social-emotional development by observing, interpreting, and responding contingently to the range of the child’s emotional expressions.
  • INT2. Practitioners promote the child’s social development by encouraging the child to initiate or sustain positive interactions with other children and adults during routines and activities through modeling, teaching, feedback, or other types of guided support.
  • INT3. Practitioners promote the child’s communication development by observing, interpreting, responding contingently, and providing natural consequences for the child’s verbal and non-verbal communication and by using language to label and expand on the child’s requests, needs, preferences, or interests.
  • INT4. Practitioners promote the child’s cognitive development by observing, interpreting, and responding intentionally to the child’s exploration, play, and social activity by joining in and expanding on the child’s focus, actions, and in tent.
  • INT5. Practitioners promote the child’s problem-solving behavior by observing, interpreting, and scaffolding in response to the child’s growing level of autonomy and self-regulation.

Teaming and Collaboration

  • TC1. Practitioners representing multiple disciplines and families work together as a team to plan and implement sup ports and services to meet the unique needs of each child and family.
  • TC2. Practitioners and families work together as a team to systematically and regularly exchange expertise, knowledge, and information to build team capacity and jointly solve problems, plan, and implement interventions.
  • TC3. Practitioners use communication and group facilitation strategies to enhance team functioning and interpersonal relationships with and among team members.
  • TC4. Team members assist each other to discover and access community-based services and other informal and formal resources to meet family-identified child or family needs.
  • TC4. Practitioners and families may collaborate with each other to identify one practitioner from the team who serves as the primary liaison between the family and other team members based on child and family priorities and needs.

InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards are designed to help teachers of all grade levels and content areas to prepare their students either for college or for employment following graduation.

  • Standard 1: Learning Development
  • Standard 2: Learning Differences
  • Standard 3: Learning Environments
  • Standard 4: Content Knowledge
  • Standard 5: Application of Content
  • Standard 6: Assessment
  • Standard 7: Planning for Instruction
  • Standard 8: Instructional Strategies
  • Standard 9: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice
  • Standard 10: Leadership and Collaboration

NCATE standards are intended to serve as professional guidelines for educators. They also overview the “organizational structures, policies, and procedures” necessary to support them.

  • Standard 1: Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Professional Dispositions

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