Building Family-Community Relationships

Safe, nurturing and predictable environments are essential for young children's healthy development. We believe that families, as children's primary caregivers, play the most important role in providing safe, nurturing, and predictable environments for children. When families and educators work together in a trusting partnership, they lay the foundation for children's lifelong success.

The resources on this page can help you support and build relationships with your families.

Fun with Feelings

The Fun with Feelings cards for pre-K and playmat for 3-K offer families a playful way to help children learn about feelings and support social emotional skill-building at home. The Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) has partnered with the Center for Early Childhood Health and Development (CEHD) at NYU Langone Health to create Pre-K Thrive resources for Pre-K for All children, families, and programs.

Fun with Feelings Cards for Pre-K

You can use the following resources to support your program's use of Fun with Feelings:

Fun with Feelings Playmat for 3-K

Language Supports

Children and families in New York City speak over 180 different languages. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that all families have meaningful opportunities to participate in their child’s education no matter what language they speak at home.

We offer several supports that you can use to support families in your program who speak a language other than English.

District Schools and Pre-K Centers

Please visit the Translations and Interpretations Unit web page for language support.

New York City Early Education Centers (NYCEECs)

Over the Phone Interpretation

The DOE offers free access to over-the-phone interpretation services in over 350 languages so staff can communicate with Pre-K for All families who speak a language other than English. Interpretation services are now provided by a new vendor.

You can use the over-the-phone interpretation in three ways:

  • when a parent/guardian comes to your school/program
  • when you call a parent/guardian
  • when a parent/guardian calls you

Follow these four simple steps and a trained interpreter will assist you in communicating with your families:

  • Step 1: Dial 1-800-890-6867
  • Step 2: Provide your 4-letter DOE Site ID
    • Note: If you are unsure of your site ID, the operator can identify the correct ID using your program's zip code and/or program name and address.
  • Step 3: Indicate the language for which you need an interpreter (or country if you are not sure of their language)
  • Step 4: Let the operator know if you need the interpreter to place a call to a family member/caregiver on your behalf.

Please use the instructions going forward. You should discard instructions for Language Line as that vendor is no longer contracted with the DOE.

New Features:
  • 350+ Languages
  • Ability to schedule an over-the-phone interpreter in advance
  • Dialects may be requested based on region (e.g. Moroccan Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Yemeni Arabic, etc.)
  • Interpreter can call back if the call is disconnected
  • Live coordinator can help determine a parent’s language

If you have questions or issues, please email

Translated Templates for Common Letters to Families

We have developed translated templates for common letters to families to assist programs in their efforts to establish strong relationships with all families, including those who speak languages other than English.

Dual Language Classrooms

Dual Language classrooms provide instruction in two languages: English and a second “target” language. Dual Language classrooms enroll a balance of students whose home language is English and students whose home language is the target language. Dual Language classrooms are designed to enable all students to become bilingual.

Dual Language classrooms must be staffed by a teacher who has certification in early childhood education and has obtained the New York State (NYS) Bilingual Extension Certification.

If you are interested in opening a Dual Language classroom at your program, or would like to request additional information, email

Outreach Support

The Outreach Team is available to provide support to programs that would like assistance with strategizing around recruitment of new families. Enrollment Specialists on the Outreach Team speak with families all across New York City on a daily basis about early childhood education options. The team connects with families over the phone, at community events, and by leveraging hundreds of community partnerships. Enrollment Specialists can meet with early childhood education program staff to help develop a long-term outreach plan, identify recruitment strategies for programs to incorporate into their own outreach, and provide tools such as a social media toolkit and an outreach best practices checklist.

The Pre-K Quality Snapshot is also available to help families understand quality at Pre-K for All programs. This year's Snapshot includes results from the NYC School Survey of Families and Teachers. Our goal is to give families information to help them find the program that best meets their child’s needs.

  • To access your program’s Pre-K Quality Snapshot:
    • Search for your program
    • Click “Pre-K Snapshot”

For questions, or for support with strategizing around recruitment of new families, email or call 212-637-8000. If your families have questions about the 3-K for All or Pre-K for All admissions, they can call 718-935-2009, visit our website at or, or go to a Family Welcome Center.

Family Conferences (Parent-Teacher Conferences)

Family-teacher conferences are a time for deepening your relationships with families. These conversations provide an opportunity for teachers to partner with families and to discuss together how they can support their child’s learning and development. Conferences are a great time to have discussions about student progress and a child’s individual needs that build on the shorter casual conversations that you have with families daily.

In order to support ongoing two-way communication between families and teachers, Family-Teacher Conference should be offered throughout the school year. Here are some things to consider when planning for conversations with families:

  • Review authentic assessment data, including student observations, work samples, and family-facing reports, to plan family-teacher conferences.
  • Allow at least 20 minutes with each family to talk about their child's progress.
  • Make sure the timing is convenient for families. Conferences may be held before, during, or after regular program hours.
  • Coordinate with other staff in the building such as directors and family engagement staff on early outreach and hosting family activities.
  • Advertise the family-teacher conferences by sending home invitations at least 10 days in advance, disseminating flyers via local businesses, electronic mailing lists, the program website, and newspapers. Multilingual flyers can be found on the family-teacher conference website.
  • Meet the Language Interpretation Needs of Families. Have interpreters ready to greet parents and provide assistance (you may consider asking family-volunteers to serve as interpreters). Schools can also directly connect with Language Line to obtain an over-the-phone interpreter in any of 200 languages any time of the day.

For additional guidance, review the Teacher Guide to Family-Teacher Conferences. To learn more about the requirements, consult the Pre-K for All Handbook for District Schools and Pre-K Centers (see page 65) or the Pre-K for All Handbook for NYCEECs(see page 104).

Additional Resources

DECE - Public Libraries Partnership

Your local public library is a great partner to build family-school connections, and to continue children's learning beyond the classroom and program. Encouraging families to visit and use the resources at your local library is a great way to inspire reading and learning all year long. You may distribute these letters to families at the beginning of the year to let them know about the helpful resources the library offers and how to access them.

Contact Us

If you need more support or cannot find what you are looking for, please contact your DECE Social Worker or email

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