Family-Provider Relationships: A Multidisciplinary Review

Administration for Children and Families

Positive relationships between service providers and the adults receiving services are connected with better outcomes for youth, according to this literature review by ACF’s Office of Planning Research and Evaluation, which sought to identify the effect that a positive relationship between youth services providers and families can have on the children involved.

“The purpose of this literature review was to build a foundation for future measurement development work by identifying promising relational practices that promote positive family-provider relationships,” the review states.

The review identified many relational practices within family-provider relationships and separated the practices into three categories: attitudes, knowledge and behavior.  Attitudes refer to providers’ feelings towards or perceptions of the children and families they serve. Knowledge refers to a provider’s knowledge about him or herself and the family’s culture, values, language, circumstances, etc. as well as a basic understanding of family development, family systems or family support principles. The behaviors reviewed include those that reflect both relational and goal-oriented practices.

Positive family-provider situations are associated with improvements in children’s health, cognitive skills and academic performance, according to ACF, and are also associated with reductions in problem behavior.

Family outcomes found to be associated with positive family-provider relational practices include parental satisfaction with services, parental engagement in schools and better overall parent-child relationships.

ACF screened over 120 pieces of literature for the review and included 45 of them. The organization selected the pieces of literature based on date of publication, relevance of content and representativeness of the various disciplines.

Click here to read the report.


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