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Professional Boundaries in ECE

  • 1.  Professional Boundaries in ECE

    Posted 12-07-2020 09:18 AM

     In the just-published issue of Young Children, the Focus on Ethics column explores professional boundaries. 

     Professional boundaries are an integral part of the identity of every helping profession. They serve to draw the line between personal and professional relationships and differentiate between actions that are professionally appropriate and those that are unprofessional. They are intended to ensure that those who serve others in a professional capacity use their power well and fairly.

    We want to hear from you! What are your thoughts on professional boundaries in early childhood education?

    1.  What do you think a good early childhood educator should do in the following situations?
                     A family invites you to a party. Is it okay to go?

                    The father of a child in your class asks you to go out to dinner to discuss his child's progress. Is it okay to go out with him?

    2. Do you think professional boundaries should be an important consideration for the field of early childhood education?

    3. Have you encountered any boundary issues similar to those mentioned here. What were they?

    4. What would be helpful to you in addressing boundary issues in your workplace?

    Annie Moses
    Editor in Chief, Young Children


  • 2.  RE: Professional Boundaries in ECE

    Posted 12-08-2020 07:55 AM
    Hello I have been ECE for more than 20 years. My personal professional belief it no, no and no. I have been in many situations from being a caregiver and my daughters became friends with a family with two girls too. The boundaries soon became babysit for the weekend, house the family when getting to move out of country, more and more and eventually hard feelings and lost friendship. Also midnight phone calls , demands of immediate response and the list goes on.
    I used to just explain in my initial visit that my personal phone is not shared, calls to classroom would be answered on planning, if emergency the office would be glad to field the call, after all, when children were present they were my priority. I also was sure to respect working parents and family privacy, so simply saying I value my family time and non-work time too. In conclusion, the lines get blurred very quickly. While families naturally bond with people who are closest to their greatest gifts I feel in order to be treated like a professional lines should not be crossed.

    Pamela Sharrow
    Midland Public Schools
    Midland MI

  • 3.  RE: Professional Boundaries in ECE

    Posted 12-10-2020 01:43 PM
    I agree with Pamela. I think that one of our biggest struggles in the field of ECE is people respecting us as educators and professionals. It is interesting to consider that many parents would not dare ask a K-12 teacher to babysit but they are quick to ask a preschool educator to babysit and expect it to happen. As pre-school educators I feel that this is an area that we should take a stronger stance.

    If parents want a babysitter, they should go on and hire a babysitter, if they want their young child to be educated and cared for as they develop in their younger years than they should enroll them in preschool with a professional preschool educator.

    Flora Harmon
    Little Wonders Learning Center
    College Sta TX

  • 4.  RE: Professional Boundaries in ECE

    Posted 12-11-2020 11:27 AM

    I couldn't agree with this more. We are finally fighting to be recognized as the educational professionals that we are, and agreeing to be a babysitter for a parent just perpetuates the image of the glorified babysitters we are perceived by some to be. We have to maintain our professionalism and show the parents and the educational community that we are early childhood educators, not just people who "watch" their children while they are at work.



    Terri Crosbie


    Berry Patch Early Learning Center

    Flemington, NJ 08822




  • 5.  RE: Professional Boundaries in ECE

    Posted 12-12-2020 11:01 AM
    As far as babysitting goes, I completely agree that it can create issues around boundaries and a sense of perceived favoritism in the classroom, and it blurs the lines of professionalism. However, I have great sympathy for my colleagues that do it. We are wrapping back to the pay issue here. Babysitting may actually pay more than the teacher's hourly wage.

    Karen Lefkovitz
    Independent Consultant
    Philadelphia PA

  • 6.  RE: Professional Boundaries in ECE

    Posted 12-08-2020 05:24 PM
    I have been an educator, associate director, and director.
    1.  As to the parties, I always went to parties for the children in my care that I was invited to.  It let the children know that I was a person outside of school.  AS for meeting a father for dinner I would say absolutely NO.  I feel this crosses a boundary.
    2. I do feel that professional boundaries are most definitely a consideration in this field.  I think accepting an invite to a party or doing private childcare after hours is perfectly acceptable.  One on one with parents regarding their child outside of the work environment however could be misconstrued.
    3.  I personally have never encountered any issues.  As an educator and assistant director, I did private care for many of my families after hours.  We did not discuss happenings in the classroom unless it was a funny story to share.
    4.  I think that boundaries must be established in the very beginning and educators and parents both should be aware of what is accetable and what is not.

    Deandra Wimberley
    Le Bonheur Comm Health & Well-Being
    Memphis TN