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Partnering with Parents in Early Childhood Services: Raising and Responding to Concerns


This study’s purpose was to elucidate the experiences of educators raising and responding to child-related concerns within Early Childhood Education and Care settings. Parent satisfaction with interactions, educators’ ratings of how well interactions went, and educator confidence related to raising or responding to concerns, were examined. Participants were 302 parents and 118 educators from 19 long day care and/or kindergarten services in Victoria, Australia. Results revealed child behaviour, toilet training and social development concerns were most often discussed, and most parents felt satisfied with interactions they had with their child’s educator about those concerns. Overall, educators reported favourably about their own interactions. Some negative experiences reported by parents, and educators’ comments about successful components of raising and responding to concerns, provide key insights into effective communication and relationship-building strategies. This study addresses the importance of active skills-based training for early childhood educators in communicating effectively with parents.

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Data Availability

Participant consent in this research did not include seeking permission for data to be made publicly available. Inquiries about the data management, questionnaires, and intervention materials should be directed to the corresponding author.


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We acknowledge Warren Cann, Antony Gates, Catherine Murphy, Zvezdana Petrovic, Christopher Tran, and Catherine Wade for their contributions to intervention and study design. We thank and acknowledge members of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Board, and Janice Robertson, Hannah Leaver and Donna Palmer from the Children and Families Division of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, for their valuable input and advice. We appreciatively acknowledge all the service leaders who implemented Partnering with Parents as part of the work at their service and supported their staff and parents to take part in the trial.


This work was supported by the Victorian Department of Education and Training and the Victorian Department of Health and Humans Services.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design, data collection, and analysis. All authors contributed to and commented on all previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Olivia Clayton.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and publication of this article.

Ethical Approval

The Partnering with Parents experimental trial and the online consent methodology used was approved by the Parenting Research Centre Human Research Ethics Committee (App48) on 11th February 2019. As the governing body of all research involving Victorian government schools and early childhood settings, approval to conduct the research was also granted by the Victorian Department of Education and Training (Project ID 2019_003961) on 7th March 2019. To provide informed consent, participants read the online Plain Language Information Statement, clicked agreement to take part, then entered their name, email address and service into an online consent form before being redirected to the questionnaire.

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See Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1 Research questions and associated questionnaire items for parents and educators
Table 2 Types of concerns raised and responded to by parents and staff (%)

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Almendingen, A., Clayton, O. & Matthews, J. Partnering with Parents in Early Childhood Services: Raising and Responding to Concerns. Early Childhood Educ J 50, 527–538 (2022).

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  • Early childhood education and care
  • ECEC
  • Partnership
  • Parent–educator
  • Educator–parent
  • Collaboration
  • Child-related concerns