Title

How early intervention practitioners describe family-centred practice: A collective broadening of the definition

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2020

Department/School

Health Sciences

Publication Title

Child: Care, Health and Development

Abstract

© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Background: Given the importance of families in supporting the health and developmental outcomes of young children, current recommended practices for early intervention services advocate for a family-centred practice (FCP) approach that recognizes the importance of children's family systems. Though there is consensus in the field on the importance of this approach, there often remains a disconnection between these values and the everyday practice of early intervention practitioners. This study focuses on understanding the ways in which practitioners define FCP as this can provide valuable insight into why these belief–practice disconnections may exist. Methods: Early intervention practitioners (n = 203; e.g., special education or child development teachers, therapists, audiologists, etc) were surveyed at a statewide early intervention conference. Qualitative content analyses procedures were used to analyse participants' open-ended responses. Results: Three themes emerged in the analysis, including the following: (a) FCP is a distinct approach to providing early intervention services; (b) there are specific practices for best implementing FCP; and (b) there are provider qualities that are essential in order to use FCP. Conclusions: Practitioners' definitions of FCP were primarily in line with recommended practices; however, they extend beyond the current definition of FCP in the early intervention literature, suggesting that the way this approach is conceptualized may be collectively broadening within the field. Opportunities, difficulties, and practical implications of this broadening definition are discussed.

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