The best way to understand how your practice can provide better family-centered care is to ask youth and families directly. Learn about the ways you can do this below.

Conduct a Family Survey and/or Focus Groups

​​You can field a survey to your patients and families to obtain valuable feedback and identify opportunities for improvement. Surveys can be fielded in multiple ways including pen/paper, by sending an electronic survey link via email or social media, or by creating a pop-up survey on the practice’s website.

Similarly, you can conduct focus groups to obtain feedback from youth or families. These can be done instead of a survey, or could be used following a survey to more fully explore survey responses. Focus groups are best kept to a smaller group (such as 8-10 participants) with a facilitator who is comfortable leading group discussion.

Many find that adding an incentive such as a drawing for a prize or gift card helps to boost survey and/or focus group participation.

Some topics you might ask about in a survey or focus group include:

  • Whether the pediatrician communicated in a way that the family could understand
  • Whether the family felt like an active participant in decision making
  • Whether the pediatrician asked about the family’s beliefs and cultural practices, as well as other issues that affect the family’s well-being
  • Whether the pediatrician actively listened
  • Whether the pediatrician was able to provide the family with relevant resources, including peer support
  • How the practice can be improved to be more youth- or family-friendly

Establish a Family Advisory Group

A family advisory group is a committee that meets on a periodic basis to discuss ways to improve the patient/family experience when receiving care in the practice. Families often have insights that pediatricians or their staff do not have.

Some challenges in establishing a family advisory group are identifying the right individuals to join and actively engaging the members.

  • Identify individuals who are able to think more broadly than their own child and family situation and offer constructive feedback.
  • Consider your overall patient population and strive to structure the family advisory group to include similar perspectives and diversity.
  • Consider whether patients (eg. adolescents or young adults) should participate or whether a separate youth advisory group should be established.
  • Consider whether members will need additional support, such as a small stipend for transportation or child care.
  • Outline a structure for the family advisory group, including term limits for members, frequency and timing of meetings, roles and responsibilities, and whether any pediatricians or practice staff will participate.
  • Develop a running list of agenda items for meetings.
  • Hold meetings at a time and place (including virtual) that is convenient for family advisory group members.

Formally Engage a Family Advisor

Some practices hire a family advisor to enhance services offered in the practice. Family advisors can serve as care coordinators for children and youth with special health care needs, maintain a community resource list for important services that relate to child health, or offer peer support to other families. Family advisors may also serve on the practice’s quality improvement team to inform efforts and offer the family perspective in this work.


Fostering Partnership and Teamwork in the Pediatric Medical Home: a “How-To” Video Series

Family Centered Care Self Assessment Tool  Family Voices

Creating a Patient and Family Advisory Council: A Toolkit for Pediatric Practices, National Initiative for Children's Health Quality 

Partnering with Patients and Families to En​​​hance Safety and Quality: A Mini Toolkit, Institute for Patient and Family ​​​Centered Care​. 


Last Updated



American Academy of Pediatrics