Trust exists on a continuum, and families are at various points on that continuum when their child starts in an early childhood program. However, a trusting partnership evolves over time rather than happening quickly at the beginning of a relationship. Building trust can be thought of in terms of three phases:
1. Developing an initial friendly relationship – Being on beginning ground
2. Making shared decisions – Being on middle ground
3. Addressing challenging issues – Being on firm ground
Handout 4.1 includes examples and applications of partnership-oriented practices at each phase. As you go through Step 3 of this module, you will learn about examples and applications at each phase separately. Then you will have a chance to integrate what you have learned across each of the three phases.
The length of time it takes to reach a trusting partnership can vary significantly from one family to another. It is much easier to address challenging issues when you are on firm ground in your relationships with families. In Module 3 you learned that effective basic communication practices require individualization with each practitioner and family, and the same is true for partnership-oriented practices. You will need to adapt the partnership-oriented practices in this module to each family’s preferred communication style, cultural considerations, and preferences.