Family-Centred Service

Family-Centred Service (FCS) research focuses on an approach to rehabilitation services in which families are recognized as the experts on their child and work with service providers to make informed decisions about their child’s care.

This page has been developed to help increase people’s understanding of family-centred service. Each section contains information about the topic and specific strategies to encourage family-centred behaviours. 

CanChild's Definition of Family-Centred Service

Family-centred service is made up of a set of values, attitudes, and approaches to services for children with special needs and their families. Family-centred service recognizes that each family is unique; that the family is the constant in the child's life; and that they are the experts on the child's abilities and needs. The family works with service providers to make informed decisions about the services and supports the child and family receive. In family-centred service, the strengths and needs of all family members are considered.

Introducing the Measure of Processes of Care

The purpose of the Measure of Processes of Care, or MPOC, is to assess parents' perceptions of the care they and their children receive from children's rehabilitation treatment centres. It is a means to assess family-centred behaviours of health care providers.

The following video provides an introduction to CanChild's Measure of Processes of Care (MPOC), which looks at families' perceptions on the care they and their child receive, and highlights MPOC's relationship to family-centred service. 

How does family-centred service make a difference?

While family-centred service makes intuitive sense to many people, those in the service delivery system (including parents, service providers, managers and policy-makers) may need to see evidence supporting its effectiveness. Considerable research has been done to determine the effectiveness of family-centred services in terms of outcomes for parents, children, and the service delivery system. Future research should address aspects of family-centred service that have received relatively little attention, such as cultural diversity, and should also explore the topic from a multiple perspectives and through a wider range of outcomes.

Please see the following FCS sheet for more information on this topic:

Becoming more family-centred

Working together: Tips for service providers and parents

Effective communication between parents and service providers is an essential part of a family-centred approach to service. This facilitates positive behaviors such as clear goal setting and communication between families, children and service providers, and informed decision making by parents. Disagreements can be settled and even contribute to positive outcomes through respectful negotiations, where the perspective of every party is recognized and taken into account. 

Please see the following FCS sheets for more information on these topics:

The role of parents in family-centred service

There are many steps that parents can take to facilitate family-centred service and ensure the best care for their child. By establishing clear priorities, collecting facts, and developing sound arguments, parents will be in the best position to present their point of view and advocate for their child and themselves. Parents also play an integral role in "parent-to-parent" support networks, where their knowledge and expertise from first-hand experiences can be shared with others in similar situations. Lastly, parents are recognized as "experts" on their children in a family-centred approach to service, and would benefit from taking an active role in well-organized meetings and appointments with the service delivery team.

Please see the following FCS sheets for more information on these topics: