What is the future of family outcomes and family-centered services?
The central role of family support in programs serving young children with disabilities was emphasized in Public Law 99-457. In the ensuing 25 years, much work has been done to describe the principles and practices that characterize effective family support. Less clear is whether and how programs serving infants, toddlers, and preschoolers promote family outcomes. This article describes the components of family-centered practice and summarizes the data in support of the use of such practices. The authors show that early intervention and preschool programs are not held accountable for family outcomes; instead, they are limited only to showing that families are satisfied with services. The authors predict that family outcomes will not be part of any national accountability effort in the near future until research clearly shows that such outcomes ultimately will benefit children, and they suggest several lines of work needed to advance the field toward making an informed policy decision about documenting family benefit