A Social Justice Approach to Diverse Families
All children who are born into the world have unique families that will play a central role in their survival and continued well-being. Early childhood educators, who are charged with the care and optimal development of children, are responsible for developing a positive and productive relationship with the families of all the children in their care. In the post-World War II social context in the United States, it was most likely assumed that these families would be composed of a married mother and father with children (Coontz, 1992). However, that uniform assumption has since been permanently altered by a host of dynamic social, cultural, and political changes over time (Berman & Enjoli, 2010). Early childhood educators today must thus be well-prepared to work successfully and respectfully with many different family structures. This chapter is written to support the work of early childhood teacher educators as they strive to prepare future teachers for strong and meaningful relationships with families. The social justice approach, the foundation of this chapter, is one that embraces differences, inquires into strengths, critiques bias and unfairness, and opens spaces of opportunity and respect for families.