Family-centered care is an approach to the planning, delivery, and evaluation of health care that is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among health care providers, patients, and families.​​

Family-centered care is a respectful family/professional partnership that honors the strengths, cultures, traditions, and expertise that everyone brings to the relationship. Family-centered care is the standard of practice which results in high quality services.​​

A medical home provides family-centered care through a trusting, collaborative, working partnership with families, respecting their diversity, and recognizing that they are the constant in their child’s life.​

Eileen Forlenza, BS | National Consultant- Patient and Family-Centered Care


​​Family-centered care means treating family members as equals on the health care team and using family input/feedback to initiate change within the practice.​

 Characteristics of Family Centered Care

Your practice provides family-centered care if it:

  • Proactively communicates with families about services offered
  • Learns from families about their experience of care
  • Shares family feedback with staff
  • Uses family feedback for planning changes in practice to improve patient satisfaction and/or care delivery
  • Includes families on the improvement team and encourages families to play an active role in generating and implementing rapid cycle change (PDSA cycles)
  • Routinely asks patients/families about how the child (and potentially other members of the family) is feeling, growing, and behaving
  • Is physically accessible from curbside to examination room (this includes physical accessibility of all facilities within the practice)
  • Identifies and fulfills special accommodation needs in advance of visits
  • Helps families connect with organizations that can provide information, resources, and encouragement
  • Offers expanded appointment hours such as in the early morning, evening, or on weekends to accommodate family after-school and work schedules
  • Offers same day appointments so patients and families receive the care they need on the day they need it
  • Offers alternative ways to interact with families and patients such as phone, fax, email, text message, patient portals, and Web sites
  • Allows families and patients to speak directly with a clinician within 24 hours of placing a call
  • Considers and accommodates the culture, language, and literacy level of the patients and families which it serves
  • Pre-determines appropriate appointment length in order to optimize the visit and physician, patient, and family time

 Tools and Resources

These tools may help your practice provide family-centered care:

Medical Home Practice Brochure for Families/Caregivers
Medical Home Practice Brochure for Families/Caregivers (Spanish)
Two-page customizable brochure which practices can give to families/caregivers; provides practice contact information, community resources, and defines a medical home.

Pre-visit Contact Form
Pre-visit Contact Form in Spa​nish
One-page customizable form which practices can give to families/caregivers prior to a visit. Allows assessment of family/caregiver concerns, needs, or changes in children’s health.

Child and Adolescent Health Assessment
Child and Adolescent Health Assessment in Spanish
Two-page questionnaire for practices to give to families/caregivers. Allows families/caregivers to provide condition specific information about their child to clinicians which can be added to patient registries.

Family/Caregiver Survey
Three-page survey which practices can give to families/caregivers to assess their satisfaction with the care their child received in a primary care practice over the last 12 months.

Family Focus Group Fact Sheet
One-page fact sheet describing the benefits of establishing family focus groups within a medical home.

Post-Visit Family/Caregiver Survey
Post-Visit Family/Caregiver Survey in Spanish
One-page survey which practices can give for families/caregivers after their visit. Allows for families/caregivers to provide feedback about the care their children received after a primary care visit.

Resources to assist practices with implementing family-centered care:

Core Concepts of Patient- and Family- Centered Care
Published by the Institute for Patient- and Family- Centered Care, this webpage identifies the key components of patient- and family- centered care.

Creating a Patient and Family Advisory Council: A Toolkit for Pediatric Practices
One strategy for implementation of family-centered care in pediatric practices is the establishment and implementation of patient and family advisory councils. Created by the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality, this toolkit provides step-by-step instructions on council planning, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability.

Family-Centered Care Assessment Tool for Families
Family-Centered Care Assessment Tool (Spanish)
Created by the National Center for Family/Professional Partner​ships, this 24-question survey allows families to assess the family-centeredness of their child’s healthcare provider. An accompanying user’s guide provides instructions for the use of this tool to support improvements in family-centered care.

Positioning the Patient and Family at the Center
This monograph, developed by the National Center for Medical Home implementation, describes 17 family-centered care best practices in pediatric medical homes.

Fostering Partnerships and Teamwork in the Pediatric Medical Home: A “How –To” Webinar Series
This three-part recorded webinar series hosted by the National Center for Medical Home Implementation features two comprehensive presentation on the implementation of care partnership support and family advisory groups, respectively.

Fact Sheet: Strategies to Enhance Family-Centered Care for Hispanic Children, Youth and Families
This fact sheet provides strategies for pediatric clinicians, state and community-based organizations to enhance provision of care to Hispanic children, youth, and their families.

Family Voices National Center for Family/ Professional Partnerships
Funded by the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau, this National Center provides tools, resources, education, and trainings to pediatric clinicians as well as families and caregivers in order to foster effective family/professional partnerships in pediatric health care.

Resources to connect families with support services:

Family-to-Family Health Information Centers
Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2F HICs) are non-profit, family staffed organizations that help families of children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and the professionals who serve them. Connecting with F2F HICs can help pediatricians and other pediatric clinicians to better assist patients, families, and caregivers with the navigation of services and systems for CYSHCN.

Parent to Parent USA
Parent to Parent USA is a grassroots organization which offers guidance to families of children with special health care needs through peer-support.

Center for Parent Information and Resources
Res​ources, education, and technical assistance for parents and family members related to children and youth with special health care needs. Families can find their state Parent Training and Information Center, which provides assistance to families on early intervention, special education, and transition to adult life, on this website.

Building Your Care Notebook
This collection of resources allows families and clinicians to keep track of their child's health care clinicians, community resources, medications, and other materials necessary for family-centered coordinated care.​

 Tools from the American Academy of Pediatrics

EQIPP: Medical Home
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers an EQIPP course, Medical Home, which guides users through the detailed quality improvement process necessary to undergo the pediatric medical home transformation.​