Competency 8: Family-Professional Partnerships
Family-professional partnerships at all levels of the system of care ensure the health and wellbeing
of children, including those with special health care needs, and their families through respectful family-professional collaboration and shared decision making. Partnerships with family-run organizations and with families and individuals from the target population honor the strengths, culture, traditions, and expertise that everyone brings to the relationship when engaged in program planning, program implementation, and policy activities in leadership roles in a developmentally respectful manner. Partnerships with these organizations can also help MCH
leaders connect with families and youth from diverse backgrounds to ensure the perspectives of the communities who receive services are represented.
This is a partnership beyond providing care. Family and personal expertise is a body of knowledge
that constitutes a discipline. Family and self-advocate faculty, staff, and consultants provide
interdisciplinary teams with an invaluable perspective: that of the recipient of care and services.
The family and self-advocate as leader and teacher is invaluable to training programs, hospitals,
and other public health programs.
From a health and wellness perspective, the key to effective
family-professional partnerships entails:
- Shared decision making, always involving
individuals and the family in planning and
- Addressing family priorities.
- Connecting the family to needed services.
- Tailoring recommendations to social, educational,
and cultural issues affecting the family.
- Recognizing the impact of a child with special
health care needs on families at a systems level.
- Acknowledging the potential of the family as a
source of strength and support in child, adolescent, youth, and young adult care.
Historically in the field of MCH, the concept of family-centered care was developed within
the community of parents, advocates, and health professionals concerned for CYSHCN, with
the goal that all care is received in family-centered, comprehensive, coordinated systems.
Further, individuals who have personal experiences with the system of care, such as those with
developmental and physical disabilities; behavioral and mental health issues; and/or chronic
illness provide insight and a perspective critical to the successful development of effective policies
MCH leaders will demonstrate a working knowledge of:
- The definition of family-professional partnerships and the origin of the family-centered
care perspective at the individual, organizational, and systems level.
- The principles of family-centered care in MCH policies, programs, or clinical practice
(e.g., a health home model of primary care).
Foundational. At the foundational level, MCH leaders will:
- Solicit and implement family input in the design and delivery of clinical or public health
services, program planning, materials development, program activities, and evaluation.
Also, understand the importance of providing compensation as appropriate for such
services (e.g., honoraria, paid staff, consultants).
- Recognize the importance of providing training, mentoring, and opportunities to
families, youth, and community members to lead advisory committees or task forces.
Further, recognize the importance of seeking training and guidance from these groups.
- Demonstrate family-centered philosophical constructs (e.g., families and professionals
share decision making; professionals use a strengths-based approach when working
with families) and use these constructs to critique and strengthen practices, programs,
or policies that affect MCH population groups.
- Assess and tailor recommendations to social, educational, and cultural issues affecting
- Celebrate individual/family diversity and provide an open and accepting environment.
- Recognize that organizational and system-level policies and practices may impact
CYSHCN and families.
Advanced. Building on the foundational skills, MCH leaders will:
- Establish effective relationships with family-led organizations to build and deepen
family involvement across all MCH programs.
- Use feedback from family, youth, and community-members obtained through focus
groups, surveys, community advisory boards, and other mechanisms as part of the
project’s continuous quality improvement efforts and to monitor and assess the
program overall for effectiveness of family-professional partnerships.
- Ensure that family and community perspectives are included in MCH research, clinical
practice, programs, and policy (e.g., in community needs assessments, processes to
establish priorities for new initiatives or research agendas, or the development of
- Assist health care professionals, organizations, and health plans to develop, implement,
and evaluate models of family-professional partnerships.
- Incorporate family-professional and health home models of care delivery into health
professions and continuing education curricula, and assess the effect of this training on
professional skills, programs, and policies.
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