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I 6 Introduction What Makes a Family Partnership? Most early childhood professionals think they partner with families, since many define a partnership as teachers working with parents who follow the program rules, listen to center advice, and recognize the efforts and hard work of the staff. But a partnership is not a relationship in which one party tells the other party what to do and they do it. A partnership is a mutually respectful relationship in which parties take accountability for their responsibilities and work together to define and change the organization, based on a common goal. Sound complicated? Kind of, but let’s define what partnering with fami- lies really means in early childhood education. It means intentionally working to establish individual relationships with each family and incorporating their family goals, values, and priorities into the program’s culture. Partnering with a family is not you taking over the family but enhancing and supplementing what they are already providing for their child. You get to know the child and his family, and you use your experience and education to help that family and child receive the best care and education possible. You support the family. winning ways Using This Book This book is for anyone who works with young children and wants to make a difference in their lives, one that goes beyond the time the children are directly in your care. The book is comprised of seven sections to help you initiate that real parent partnership: 1 Know the Name of Each Parent 2 Welcome Each Parent 3 Develop an Individual Relationship with Each Parent 4 Care for the Parent to Help the Child 5 Keep Each Parent Informed 6 Create a Culture in Which Parents Can Share Ideas 7 Never Give Up on Helping a Parent