Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Early Childhood Education (PA-ECE) 7: Promoting Quality Relationships with Teaching Staff and Peers

Children experience meaningful, responsive, and stable relationships with teaching staff and peers.
2020 Edition




Early Childhood Education facilitates appropriate child development and ensures the health and safety of children in care.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Behavior management policy
  • Behavior management procedures
  • Policy for prohibited interventions
  • Staffing list that identifies lead and assistant teachers, when applicable, for each classroom
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Parents
  • Observe interactions:
    1. Teacher/child
    2. Peer/peer
    3. Teacher/teacher
    4. Group
  • Review child files for behavior management plans


PA-ECE 7.01

Each child has a meaningful, ongoing relationship with a primary caregiver.


PA-ECE 7.02

Teaching staff facilitate the development of secure attachments by providing each child with care that is:
  1. responsive to their individual and changing needs, interests, and abilities;
  2. flexible in meeting their eating, toileting, and sleeping needs;
  3. consistent; and
  4. predictable.
Examples: Responsive care can include, but is not limited to:
  1. evaluating and adjusting routines, interactions, activities, or materials to meet the individual and changing needs, interests, and abilities of the children in care;
  2. responding promptly and appropriately to children’s needs; and
  3. providing opportunities for child-directed activities and conversations.


PA-ECE 7.03

Teaching staff establish meaningful relationships with each child by:
  1. demonstrating affection, attention, and respect;
  2. interacting frequently in a positive and expressive manner;
  3. engaging in extended conversations that are both child and teacher initiated; and
  4. responding with interest to his or her questions or requests.
Examples: Positive interactions can be demonstrated through:
  1. pleasant tone of voice;
  2. use of the child’s name;
  3. use of positive language;
  4. speaking with children at their eye-level;
  5. eye contact;
  6. smiling;
  7. offering praise and encouragement; and
  8. making positive physical contact when acceptable to the child, such as hugging, holding a child’s hand, and offering comforting touch.


PA-ECE 7.04

Each infant receives individualized, ongoing care from one person, or a consistent team, who:
  1. imitates and responds positively to the infant’s vocalizations;
  2. understands and respects the infant’s sleeping and eating habits;
  3. recognizes the infant’s various cries and promptly responds;
  4. provides reassurance, physical care, regular affection, and tactile and vocal stimulation;
  5. gives one-on-one attention during caregiving routines such as rocking, feeding, or changing; and
  6. offers consistent repetition of daily routines, allowing for some variety and contrast.
NA The agency does not provide infant care.


PA-ECE 7.05

Teaching staff promote the development of positive self-identity by:
  1. providing opportunities for children to care for and make decisions regarding their classroom, and contribute to the group;
  2. welcoming children and their families to the program each day;
  3. encouraging exploration and celebrating achievements; and
  4. involving the child in communication with the family whenever possible.


PA-ECE 7.06

Teaching staff act as role models and promote social development and positive peer relationships by:
  1. supporting children in the development of friendships and other forms of positive group interaction;
  2. providing opportunities to learn and practice pro-social behaviors, including negotiation, problem solving, conflict resolution and communication skills;
  3. helping children to enter into, sustain, and enhance play;
  4. protecting children from teasing and bullying;
  5. serving meals “family-style;” and
  6. using everyday activities to foster the development of social skills.
Examples: Social development among infants can be promoted by:
  1. recognizing when an infant is interested in interacting with other infants and facilitating that behavior; and
  2. talking during routine, one-on-one activities such as diapering and feeding.


PA-ECE 7.07

Teaching staff support positive behavior by:
  1. building on children’s strengths and reinforcing positive behaviors;
  2. encouraging the child’s ability to self-regulate and accept responsibility for their behavior;
  3. responding consistently to behavioral issues;
  4. providing engaging activities throughout the day;
  5. re-directing children to encourage self-calming and de-escalate volatile situations;
  6. providing sufficient support during daily transitions; and
  7. modeling positive, pro-social behavior by interacting with fellow staff, children, and families in a positive, respectful manner.
Examples: Re-directing children can involve engaging the child in an individual activity away from the group and having a developmentally-appropriate discussion about emotional self-regulation techniques and conflict resolution skills.
Note: See PA-ECE 8.10 for more information on promoting emotional self-regulation within the curriculum.

Fundamental Practice

PA-ECE 7.08

Negative approaches to behavior management are prohibited including, but not limited to:
  1. corporal punishment;
  2. interventions that involve withholding nutrition or hydration, or that inflict physical or psychological pain;
  3. isolation and locked seclusion;
  4. ignoring the child;
  5. group punishment or discipline for individual behavior;
  6. labeling a child “good” or “bad;”
  7. the use of demeaning, shaming, threatening, or degrading language, tone, volume, or activities;
  8. physical restraint, except in response to age-appropriate, but potentially dangerous behavior, such as when a child runs into the street; and
  9. punitive use of timeouts.


PA-ECE 7.09

When children with persistent behavioral issues are enrolled in the program, teachers work with parents to:
  1. identify triggers to negative behaviors;
  2. identify de-escalation strategies or interventions that have worked well in the past;
  3. develop and implement an individualized plan to support the child’s success; and
  4. seek mental health consultation as needed.
Note: See PA-ECE 9 for more information on serving children with unique behavioral needs that may require additional screenings or services.


PA-ECE 7.10

Program changes are made with sensitivity to each child’s need for stability and consistent relationships.
Examples: Program changes can include decisions around grouping, staffing, and scheduling, which could impact a child’s day-to-day routines and established relationships.

Agencies can demonstrate that the needs of children in the program have been considered by instituting changes slowly, over-time; notifying children and their families of upcoming changes in advance; and taking the time to answer questions regarding the purpose of the change.