Early Childhood Teachers’ Relationships with Families When Children Experience Adversity

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  • Quality relationships among families and teachers in early care and education (ECE) hold promise to nurture resilience among children impacted by adversity. However, little is known about how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) may also affect the interactions between families and teachers. This study uses quantitative survey data from families (N = 235), and qualitative interview data from teachers (N = 13) to examine the link between children’s adversity and family-teacher relationship quality (knowledge, attitudes, practices) in ECE. Quantitative results indicate that when a child has experienced more of the ACEs conventionally studied (e.g., maltreatment, parent substance abuse or mental illness) parents are more likely to perceive lower quality practices with teachers, but when a child has experienced more ACEs on an extended measure (e.g., bullying, discrimination), parents are more likely to perceive higher quality practices with teachers. Qualitative results indicate that teachers report challenges in relationships with families when children experience trauma or adversity, but that ACEs can also present an opportunity to strengthen family-teacher relationships. Findings can inform professional development for teachers focused on strategies to work with families facing adversity, as well as policies related to program standards (e.g., family engagement) and interventions to improve family-teacher relationships quality.
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  • 38
Journal Issue/Number
  • 2
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  • The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A150107 to Oregon State University. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education. The funder was not involved in the study design, nor in the collection, analysis, interpretation, or reporting of the findings.
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  • 2150-2641



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