About NCAST programs

Keys to Caregiving

Parent Child Interaction (PCI) Feeding and Teaching Scales

Keys to CaregivingKaren Ethan Looking Away

The language of the newborn, like that of the adult, is one of gesture, posture and expression. When parents learn to understand and respond sensitively to their newborn’s cues, caring for their baby is more enjoyable and may well provide the foundation for a communicative bond that will last a lifetime.

Professionals and parents themselves who do this rich, video-based program learn about infants’ states of consciousness, how to promote predictable behaviours through routines, activities and actions, and how to become “tuned in” to young children’s feelings by being able to identify and respond to their pre-verbal cues. 
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Parent-Child Interaction (PCI) Feeding and Teaching Scales

The PCI Scales are the most widely used scales for measuring parent-child interaction today. They are a reliable and valid means of observing and rating caregiver-child interaction for the purpose of assessing a dyad's strengths and areas needing improvement. The scales are widely used in both clinical practice and research with families and young children and are widely used as pre and post-test measures, contain a well-developed set of observable behaviors that describe the caregiver-child communication and interaction during either a feeding situation, birth to 12 months of life, or a teaching situation, birth to 36 months of age.

Why is the PCI program so important?
The PCI Scales:

  • are valid and reliable measures for assessing parent-child interaction
  • describe behaviours the caregiver and child each bring to an interaction and the contingency of their responses to one another
  • provide separate but parallel observations of caregiver-child pairs
  • easily identify strengths as well as weaknesses
  • assess concerns early in the caregiver-child communication pattern
  • identify practical intervention points
  • are recognized by many legal jurisdictions in dealing with child abuse, custody and neglect cases
  • are used as pre and post measures for clinical programs or research


Feeding Scale takes approximately 30-40 minutes to administer and score (length of time to observe a feed or meal). Feeding scale scores at 12 months show a significant correlation with measures of children’s subsequent cognitive abilities

Teaching Scale scores from interactions with children as young as 3 months of age show a significant correlation with subsequent measures of attachment, resilience and cognitive abilities. Teaching Scale takes approximately 10-15 minutes to administer and score.

To use the Feeding and Teaching Scales in practice or research, professionals must be trained by a registered NCAST instructor and receive NCAST certification confirming your reliability in the use of each scale.

See also Professional Education
PCI Feeding Scale workshop details ……
PCI Teaching Scale workshop details ……

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