Relationship-Centered Practices in Early Childhood: Working with Families, Infants, and Young Children at Risk

Authors: Gail L. Ensher Ed.D, David A. Clark M.D.

Format: Paperback, 248 pages, 7.0 x 10.0
ISBN: 9781598570595
Price: $36.95

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Strong working relationships with diverse families and children are the foundation of successful early intervention. Discover fresh, practical ways to build these relationships in this essential guidebook, every professional's blueprint for working with children and families within the specific context of their culture, family structure, and risk factors.

Developed by two respected early childhood authorities—special education expert Gail Ensher and pediatrician David Clark—this book is a must for all professionals serving families of children birth to age 8 who have disabilities or who may be at risk. Presenting a clear framework for effective relationship-centered care in natural environments, Ensher and Clark give readers the up-to-date information and guidance they need to

  • meet AAP guidelines and IDEA requirements for family-centered care, and address the new OSEP requirement that programs report how early intervention services have helped families and children
  • respond appropriately to the different types of family diversity they'll encounter in their day-to-day work
  • enhance their current models for early intervention in natural environments, such as coaching, consultation, and routines-based early intervention
  • empower families to skillfully sustain and extend care long after early intervention services are complete
  • improve teamwork and communication with a wide range of other professionals across disciplines and agencies
  • inform their practice with the most current demographic information, all in one convenient volume

With dozens of engaging photos, case studies, anecdotes from parents and professionals, and a helpful list of resources for working with at-risk families, readers will get vivid insights that will help them to put relationship-centered care into practice. And the chapter highlights and thought-provoking discussion questions make this book ideal for university courses or independent study.

A must have for every early childhood professional working within today's changing family landscape, this book is the ultimate guide to relationship-centered care that improves both child and family outcomes.

Invaluable insights on different types of family diversity:

  • Family structures. Get a better understanding of teen parents, older mothers and fathers, same-sex parents, single parents, and more.
  • Risk factors. Manage the effects of factors like substance abuse, natural and man-made disasters, homelessness, family member loss, and child abuse and neglect.
  • Child-related challenges. Address the ongoing effects of prematurity, disability, and sibling concerns.
  • Cultural backgrounds. Strengthen interactions with families from specific cultural backgrounds, and learn how culture might inform families' perspectives on early intervention and medical treatment


Review by: Megan Purcell, Associate Professor, Department of Special Education, Eastern Kentucky University

"A wonderful text that brings forward the very important and yet delicate issues surrounding our work with families . . . I look forward to adding it to my own resource list as I work with pre-service and practicing early interventionists and early childhood special educators."

Table of Contents

About the Authors
Introduction: Relationships as Foreground
Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark

I: Laying the Foundation

  1. A Framework for Best Practice
    Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark
  2. Teamwork and Knowing Enough About the System to Help
    Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark

II: Beginnings

  1. The Early Years and Brain Development: The Critical Connections of Building Relationships
    Marilyn A. Fisher
  2. Cultural Conceptions of Motherhood and Pregnancy in the 21st Century
    Melissa M. Doyle
  3. Born Too Early
    David A. Clark & Gail L. Ensher
  4. Diversity in Context: What Difference Does a Difference Make in a Family?
    Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark

III: Peaks and Valleys Along the Way

  1. Diversity in Context: What Difference Does a Difference Make for a Child?
    Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark
  2. A Child with Ongoing Special Needs
    Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark
  3. Brothers and Sisters: The Family Includes Everyone
    Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark
  4. The Ills of Substance Abuse, Child Abuse, and Neglect
    Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark
  5. Family Loss, Disasters, and Young Children
    Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark
  6. Homelessness and Young Children
    Robin J. Streever, Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark

IV: Emerging and Finding the Way Again

  1. Professionals and Families: Partners in Care
    Laura A. Jenkins & Mary Beth Sullivan
  2. An Epilogue: Climbing to New Heights
    Gail L. Ensher & David A. Clark


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