These guidelines are intended to be used by early childhood professionals who are creating communications efforts such as mass messaging campaigns, marketing campaigns, or targeted service awareness that is directed toward parents and caregivers. Click the Resources links below for research, examples and toolkits.

Thoughtful and strategic communication with parents and caregivers is critical to providing information and resources to help them as they make the best choices to support the children in their care. Based on research, the practical tips and guidelines below will help you reach and connect with the parents and caregivers in your community.

The following guidelines are based on three recommended strategies from the Early Childhood Communication Efforts in Colorado report, which was endorsed by the Early Childhood Leadership Commission:

Noise Reduction
Reduce communication “noise” resulting from inconsistencies or duplicate efforts that are unevenly targeted to families and caregivers in regions with different communication needs
Increase the quality of communication, including the use of effective content, enhanced communication training for trusted messengers that connect with parents and caregivers, and a heightened focus on effective tactics

Provide greater emphasis on the two-way, responsive engagement of parents and caregivers that will generate more positive outcomes for children’s cognitive and social development

Tips and Guidelines to Engage with Parents and Caregivers:

  • Determine the specific action and outcome you want to achieve. Quality Icon


  • Plan for evaluation in messaging strategies from the beginning. Quality iconEngagement icon
  • Develop a two-way feedback loop allowing parents and caregivers to continue to give feedback and shape ongoing messages.Engagement icon


  • Identify the specific audience at the start and tailor messages to them. Quality icon


  • Use resources already created, and build onto pre-existing campaigns, such as awareness months.Noise icon
  • Connect parents and caregivers to activities that are happening locally. Noise iconEngagement icon
  • Be sensitive to disparities in digital skills and connectivity. Quality icon
  • Use trusted messengers such as child care providers and teachers, school staff, pediatricians, and libraries to deliver messages. Quality icon
  • Take advantage of teachable moments as opportunities to communicate information.Quality iconEngagement icon
  • Create opportunities for parents and caregivers to share information with each other.Engagement icon
  • Create content designed or accessible for mobile use (such as phones and tablets).Engagement icon
  • Create regular two-way calls, texts and emails. Engagement icon
  • Use social media to amplify your message. Engagement icon


  • Use research-based, evaluated, quality messages before creating new content. Noise iconQuality icon
  • Build on existing metaphors and slogans rather than creating new structures.Noise iconQuality icon
  • Include benefits to parents and caregivers upfront; involve them in understanding why this information is beneficial to children. Quality icon
  • Use the general public reading level of 5th grade to create appropriate language for messages. Quality icon
  • Avoid using jargon and acronyms. If using acronyms, spell out the acronym the first time it’s used in a communication. Quality icon
  • Include actionable steps for parents and caregivers.Quality icon
  • Develop proactive and strength-based messaging that empowers parents and caregivers – provide guidance on what to do, not what not to do. Quality iconQuality icon
  • Develop messages for caregivers that are representative of various family structures like fathers, kinship caregivers, foster parents, and others that provide care for children. Quality icon
  • Include messages that are culturally appropriate and inclusive. Quality icon
  • Provide materials in multiple languages that are appropriate for the community. Quality icon
  • Include pictures that are representative of diverse family structures. Quality icon
  • Consistently include parents and caregivers in testing or developing messages before creating materials to ensure cultural relevancy and accessibility. Quality iconEngagement icon


  • Evaluate messaging strategies identified in the beginning; continuously improve on feedback.Quality iconEngagement icon
  • Use two-way feedback loops allowing parents and caregivers to continue to shape ongoing messages.Engagement icon


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