Child Centered Care vs. Family Centered Care

The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) pediatric health care home position statement (NAPNAP, 2009), Public Law 99-457, and the AAP (AAP, 2001) all stress the need to engage and partner with families for optimal outcomes. The differences between child centered care and family centered care is demonstrated below.

Child Centered Care


Family Centered Care

Goal: To take care of the child for the short term


Goal: Parental empowerment and child advocacy for the life of the child

Child’s needs are primary focus

Family needs to assist the child are the focus

Professionals decide on the plan of care

Family and professionals decide on the plan of care

Parent’s opinions are not consistently requested

Parents ideas are requested and valued

Families are considered part of a particular group

Families are all considered to be unique

Parents participate as observers

Parents are considered to be equal members at whatever level they are comfortable

Parental differences are judged as not being in the best interest of the child

Family culture, language, ethnicity, and structure are respected.

Test results of the child are the most important factor used to plan care

Focus is on addressing parental concerns, issues, questions, and their need to assistance in problem-solving

One-way communication, professional to parent

Two-way communication, with parents encouraged to have input into the child care plan

Reference:  Pediatric Primary Care: 5th Edition, by Catherine E. Burns, Ardys M. Dunn, Margaret A. Brady, Nancy Barber Starr, Catherine G. Blosser.  Publisher:  Elsevier Sanders, at

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