“There is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child’s education from day one.”

President Barack Obama

At the heart of Maryland’s Birth to Kindergarten System of Services are families and children. The early childhood intervention and education process by design establishes families as equal partners, families as their child’s first teacher, families as fully engaged in all aspects of Maryland’s Birth to Kindergarten system of services. This philosophy is supported through national research that suggests that meaningful engagement of families in their children’s early learning supports school readiness and later academic success (Henrich & Gadaire, 2008; Weiss, Caspe, & Lopez, 2006).

Family partnerships are critical to successful outcomes for children. All families want the best for their children. In order to build the capacity of families to engage in the process they must understand the process. Informed families can communicate the vision for their child; they know their child best, and can provide their child’s strengths and challenges as well as other critical information to help shape the plan for meeting their child’s goals and objectives.

Maryland’s Birth to Kindergarten System of Services has at the very foundation the premise that family support and parent training are critical components to ensure that families are actively participating in the decision making for their child. In each local jurisdiction in Maryland, parent coordinators (parents of children with disabilities) and professionals work together to provide family support services through the public school system. These services consist of three different program components:

Family Support Network (FSN) – Parent Coordinators provide support and training to families of children receiving early intervention services.

Preschool Partners (PP) – Parent Coordinators provide support and training to families of children ages 3 through 5 receiving services through an Extended IFSP or an IEP.

Partners for Success (PFS) – Parent Coordinators provide support and training to families of children receiving services through an IEP. Families of children with disabilities can access support throughout their child’s academic career and as they transition into adult life. Download the Directory of Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Family Support Services here.

“A parent is a child’s first teacher. During the early years we know building strong partnerships with families is a critical component in fostering a child’s school readiness skills. Informed and engaged parents are our best resource for enhancing family capacity and improving educational outcomes.”

Marcella Franczkowski, Assistant State Superintendent,
Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services,
Maryland State Department of Education

RELATED LINKS

Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers

Parenting is hard work! But it can also be fun and rewarding. There are many things you can do to help build a safe, stable, and nurturing relationship with your child. This website will help you handle some common parenting challenges, so you can be a more confident parent and enjoy helping your child grow.

Parental Rights-Maryland Procedural Safeguards Notice-Infants and Toddlers, Preschool Special Education and Special Education:  All familes receiving early intervention services or preschool special education services in Maryland receive a copy of the State’s formal procedural safeguards notice. This notice includes a full explanation of parental rights as established by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Code of Maryland Annotated Regulations (COMAR).

National Center for Learning Disabilities: Transitioning to Kindergarten: A Toolkit for Early Childhood Educators,: a comprehensive resource that includes tools and materials to facilitate and enhance children’s transition to kindergarten.

National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement – Research to Practice Series
This series provides strategies that programs can use to foster strong relationships and support positive outcomes for children, families, and staff.

Get Ready to Read!: a rich website designed to support educators, parents, and young children in the development of early literacy skills.

Family Outcomes Webinar:  provides an overview of Maryland’s 2011 Early Intervention Family Survey (Part C) results. Additional webinar resources:

Infant and Toddler Parent Self-Assessment Tool

Resource for Promoting Family Engagement

Family Outcomes PowerPoint Presentation