Professional Resource

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Vol 40 No 1—This Issue and Why it Matters

Stefanie Powers, Editor

A professional code of ethics provides common goals and language that provide guidance for professionals navigating dilemmas that arise from conflicting perspectives, values, or goals (view ZERO TO THREE’s values and ethical standards). For professionals who serve young children and their families, potentially impacting their well-being in powerful ways, the need for strong, clear ethical boundaries and ideals is critical. Applying an ethical lens serves to ensure that equity, fairness, and justice prevail in the complex work of supporting young children and families, particularly when serving children and families from marginalized or vulnerable populations. We delved into this topic by asking our ZERO TO THREE members and colleagues to share their experiences and perspectives, and the result is the fascinating collection of articles in this issue.

The authors highlight the reality that there are ethical implications to virtually every aspect of working with and for infants, toddlers, and their families. Authors raise questions about the ethics of decisions made on behalf of very young children and challenge readers to consider the impact of these decisions on children’s developing sense of identity and belonging. Other authors describe the ethical dilemmas that inevitably arise when professionals from different agencies or disciplines must share information and coordinate efforts to meet the needs of the children and families they are committed to support.

The authors share their perspectives, experiences, and recommendations from across the range of child and family serving sectors: early intervention, early childhood education, child welfare, infant and early childhood mental health, and physical health. Regardless of the professional sector, however, common themes emerge:

  • Infants and toddlers are by nature vulnerable, and some even more so because of circumstances. As a consequence, they and their families must be approached with the highest level of ethical consideration by the professionals whose words and actions affect them (sometimes quite profoundly).
  • Self-awareness of one’s beliefs, values, biases, and perspectives is the necessary first step in recognizing and addressing the ethical considerations and conflicts inherent in working on behalf of children and families.
  • Communication—early and often—is essential for professionals and agencies who are collaborating to serve children and families and attempting to navigate the ethical challenges that arise along the way.

These stories and perspectives provide a wealth of provocative material for personal reflection and honest conversation among colleagues for every professional concerned with the well-being of young children and their families.

Kathy Reschke, Editorial Assistant Senior Content Specialist, Professional Development & Workforce Innovations

The views expressed in this material represent the opinions of the respective authors and are intended for education and training to help promote a high standard of care by professionals. Publication of this material does not constitute an endorsement by ZERO TO THREE of any view expressed herein, and ZERO TO THREE expressly disclaims any liability arising from any inaccuracy or misstatement, or from use of this material in contravention of rules, regulations, or licensing requirements.

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