Center for the Study of
Culture, Health, and Human Development
at the
University of Connecticut


  Passion Purpose Growth Empowerment Impact

 These are the words that participants in the family development trainings sponsored by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) use to describe their experience in the FDC and FDC for Supervisors programs.

 DYCD was created in 1996 to provide the City of New York with high-quality youth and family programming. Our central task is administering available City, state, and federal funds to effective community-based organizations.  We invest in a network of community-based organizations and programs to alleviate the effects of poverty and to provide opportunities for New Yorkers and communities to flourish.

 For the past twenty years, DYCD in collaboration with the City University of New York and the National FDC Program has sponsored the Family Development trainings for frontline and supervisors representing nonprofit and community based organizations throughout the five boroughs.  We support this participation through competitive scholarships to selected applicants which cover the full cost of the training.  There is a network of approximately 3,000 credentialed workers in New York City and the numbers continue to grow.

 We are committed to the ongoing support of this valuable training and credentialing program which has enabled organizations to more effectively serve families and communities.
Meryl M. Jones
Assistant Commissioner
Capacity Building and Professional Development
Schenectady Community Action Program (SCAP) Inc.
Family Development Credential (FDC)
SCAP has been a supporter of FDC since FDC's inception 20 years ago. SCAP operates the Head Start program in Schenectady County New York. Our Family Workers and Home Visitors have attended the FDC course for many years. Ten years ago, we thought that it made sense to have all our direct service staff trained with FDC. It also made sense to provide FDC training to SCAP employees and other Schenectady professionals. Therefore we had a program director trained to become an FDC instructor for line staff and leaders. We have been providing FDC training ever since, and attend updates offered by National FDC at U Conn.

FDC has transformed SCAP's approach from the deficit method to the strength based model. We work with about 5,000 families a year, many with issues meeting their basic needs. This type of work tends to focus on the problem (what's going wrong) rather than the assets of the family that could be the answer to their needs. The idea of letting families set their own goals was not the way Crisis Counselors tend to work so was a very scary concept for most workers. Of course professionals always feel that they know the answers needed whether you're a plumber or a doctor. It has taken some time to make significant headway in this area but we have rounded the corner and now the agency culture has embraced FDC completely. In fact with our last agency strategic plan FDC became the center piece of our agency focus.

Directly from our Strategic Plan:
Before our agency-wide decision to apply the Family Development model to fully integrate SCAP, each department tended to work within its own silo, pursuing its own funding
sources, using the results of programs to justify its own funding source renewals, and
only occasionally seeking to refer the customer into the wider Agency system.
Emphasizing the Family Development Model as a complete Agency system requires inter-departmental referrals so became the engine of program integration.

The Executive Team realized that integration of services would become a key determinant of the long term success of the Agency. The Executive Team knew that each department provides excellent service to the customer, overseen by loyal and dedicated personnel. Even so, although the team has been talking about integration for some years there has been little progress on how to create a communication flow, a paperwork flow and an easy way for customers to understand and take advantage of the benefits of integrated services.

In place already at the Agency is the Family Development Model, with many staff having received partial FDC training. In considering a model of system-wide integration, he Executive Team quickly saw that the Family Development Model could be a framework for driving system integration throughout the Agency.

The key elements of the Family Development approach focuses on the customer defining their
life goals. Caseworkers help the customer understand options available to address issues, and define processes  the customer would have to engage. The customer defines the desired outcome(s), then SCAP works to help implement the customer- driven solution(s) within the programs offered, or available by referral. Often times this is the end of the process at the Agency. When the customer presents with a particular and defined issue, he/she is referred to the appropriate department. The caseworker in that department uses the FDC model to assist the customer to self-define the issue and identify the agreed upon remedy. Once implemented, the customer is often referred back through the Family Development Model to gain abilities at other skills that, ultimately, create self-reliance. These measurements of self-reliance include financial literacy, case conferencing, life skills, mental health, parenting, and employment/education.
Keith E Houghton
Senior Community Resource Navigator
Schenectady, New York

"I love facilitating the FDC process. It enables us to provide the best services for the people we love and care about and move towards breaking the cycle of dependency on government benefits in Indian country"
Kelly Bueno Gamboa

Employment Development Training Specialist
Washoe Tribe of NV & CA

"Our Head Start programs in California have found the FDC program to be an invaluable resource for developing their staff.  Program directors describe the FDC program as "transformational," in helping their Family Advocates develop a rigorous, strength based, approach to their work.  Family Advocates describe the course as a true learning community, and often have reunions even after the course is completed, because the bonds formed during the course are so powerful."
Rick Mockler
Executive Director
California Head Start Association

"California has been using the national Family Development Credential® Program since 2000 and have found it to be a highly successful program for family workers in the state. In 2003 -2004, ten programs for family workers were reviewed and it was found the FDC™ program to be the most comprehensive and current curriculum available. California Head Start Association continues to believe it to be the premier comprehensive program for strength-based training."
John S. Berndt, L.C.S.W.
California State Coordinator, Family Development Credential® Program
California Head Start Association

"Our FDC™ class testimonies have offered personal and professional growth and new found learning working with families using the strategies of strength-based approaches."
Patty Hinojosa
Community Action Partnership of Kern Head Start Program

"My skills as a family development worker grew by leaps and bounds as a result of participating in the FDC™ program. Family Development is an amazing process through which families reach their own goals. As a family development worker, I am working on strengths, creating relationships based on mutual respect."
Participant, KidZCount
Placer Community Action Council, Inc.


Northeast Kansas Community Action Program (NEK-CAP, Inc.) has just completed its third class for the Family Development Credential in collaboration with National FDC Program at UConn. Staff and management alike have seen the benefits.  Advocates, the front line workers are empowered and in turn they offer the same to families.  They build on their own skills and strengths through the portfolio, time spent with their advisor and class session.  FDC gives them a greater understanding of the shared power relationship and a strong desire to develop an approach of family support that builds on strengths.   The following comment is from past NEK-CAP, Inc. FDC graduates. 

The topics that were discussed were relevant to our jobs, which brought more meaning and clarity to our work in the homes.  Our discussions opened ways to expand our ideas and made us think about the way we present ourselves, the material, and how we interact with families.  The FDC program validated us and gave us ways to improve our relationships in a positive manner.
Pam Wilburn, Child and Family Advocate (FDC 2016)

When I was first told about FDC class I was very nervous, but after we got into the class I couldn’t wait until the next class, it was so interesting and the book was full of ideas and different ways to think of things to say and do with families, I loved the Family Circle Assessment, I had heard about that but never utilized it until the class talked about it and I better understood what it was and how to use it with families.  It really helped families see how much support they really had when we did it together.  
Taking better care of you was an eye opener also.  
I would recommend this class to everyone because it really helps the family worker do a better job.  I also use my book as a resource.
Soni Moranz, Family Development Advocate, (FDC 2015)

The Empowerment Skills for Family Workers textbook by Dr. Claire Forest has an easy to follow format guiding workers through the professional development process.   The Portfolio Advisor Manual, Instructor Manual and the FDC web site offer instructors and advisors the tools they need to support the “empowerment based” curriculum.   In short the FDC is as empowering program for everyone involved.   Staff learn and are empowered, families grow and are empowered and the agency builds and is empowered making it a win win situation.  
Shelby Howard, Family and Community Resource Manager (FDC -2014, Advisor and Instructor)

"The Family Development Credential (FDC) continues to be a staple and driving force of the Healthy Families/Thriving Communities Collaboratives in the District of Columbia. By following FDC principles, our practitioners develop respectful partnerships with clients, provide the foundation for strengthening and empowering families to be self-reliant and are better able to handle future challenges. We emphasize to our frontline workers that we work in partnership with families. As the FDC State Coordinator for  Maryland and the District of Columbia, we continue to grow our FDC training. We've met with continued success in our partnerships with both public agencies and private providers who want their staff trained in FDC. The clear yet flexible FDC institute formate, enables us to create a safe haven for practitioners where they can grow personally and professionally.  The National FDC office affords  us the opportunity to develop fee structures that are fiscally appropriate while sustaining  long standing relationships. We offer FDC classes throughout the year for the communities we serve."
Sharafdeen Ibraheem (HFTCCC)

Statements from 2016 FDC DC/MD cohorts:

FDC gives me more confidence to work with any type of family and I know I have something to give in the profession of service - EA

I liked how FDC emphasized to have families look at you as a partner rather than an agency - AG

The FDC class taught me a lot about how important it is to exercise or meditate to release stress so that you can provide client with great attention - EL

The FDC course helped me to get back into myself, physically, mentally, emotionally, specifically meditating -DM

I enjoyed how hands on a lot of the assignments were and how I was able to have a different perspective with things I never thought I'd compromise on -MS  

FDC studentts from the Neighborhood Centers - Houston, Texas:

  • "Taking this credential has opened my eyes, and I've learned the importance of a family development worker and I feel that every agency in the social service field should be required to take the FDC class.I've learned the importance of my role as a worker and leader, how to work with families by communicating in different ways, how to treat families with respect and how to build partnerships with other agencies."
  • "Working with my FDC Instructor helped us both practice and use skills that werehelpful in the process of our family development plan. We both practiced communication to effectively contribute to the plan and we also practiced interdependence. Using these skills will benefit the family by helping them become more empowered to advocate for themselves when leaving the program. As the family development worker, I was able to practice strength-based assessment, mindfulness and collaboration skills that have helped me become a better family development worker."
  • "The FDC training didn't just help me to recognize ways to promote interagency collaboration, the training allowed me to learn in depth how I can gain the advantage of the many resources that our community offers for my families and how I can work with those families to help them address their needs and accomplish their goals."

A CT agency worker said
I wanted to let the family choose their own goals, but I was hesitant at first. I had worked with other families before the FDC program.  Now I’d been in the FDC program long enough to believe in and want to try the strength-based approach… Beginning with the first Family Development Plan [the mother] had chosen her own goals, and I feel that she did a great job picking them and the steps of how to achieve the goals. (Using) the skills she had… along with the determination to achieve her goals in a timely manner, surprised me.

 A CT agency supervisor said,
(After FDC training) I think [families] feel like they have more input into their treatment. They've been sitting down with staff more and really working on goals… The treatment plans are being… written from their point of view, versus us saying, "This is what they need to work on,"… [instead] saying, "Together this is what we came up with…" I think that makes a difference, they feel like they're a part of it and not just us saying this is what you need to do.

It's a whole new approach in terms of how we engage get to know them and talk about What’s going on in your household? How can we be helpful there? --and people are like… "Wow, you really care about me!" That type of excitement, I think, it's helped the staff, but it also makes the folks that come through our doors say, "Those people really care about me. They really want to see things happen in our family."

Yes, in the programs I oversee...people are definitely more empathetic … some people have world views that they were raised with…so… it's a challenge for them to adjust to a work environment that says, 'We’re a team' [I] try to work with that individual, to support them… and at first it was a lot of work… but as people… went through the FDC training, it became easier. They were able to encourage other staff when they came back to the program. I didn’t feel like I was trying to do it myself… like I’m the only one that’s motivated.

If it wasn't someone who had recently finished FDC, they wouldn't have had the oomph, the gumption, to (question). There’s a huge difference between telling them they have those skills and having an environment where they are comfortable using those skills...To get them to walk the walk, I need to walk the walk.

 When I first came to this agency, fiscal didn’t talk to IT, and IT didn’t talk to HR, and none of us talked to programs, and WIC wouldn’t talk to LEAF, and LEAF wouldn’t talk to energy… that kind of thing. It was like…everybody worked for their own program and nobody worked for (the agency). It was like we might as well have had twenty-seven different companies here...because there was no sharing...but since FDC…in our mid-level management meetings there is... a lot of action that is taken is done in ways that I think FDC has strengthened. There’s collaboration around the table, people are mindful of other people, there’s more openness, people are willing to share...and that wasn’t always the case, so I definitely see a change in the culture and the atmosphere here. So I'm attributing at least part of it to FDC.

A Recreation Dept. worker in a city whose mayor sent all city employees to FDC training said:
It's a different way of looking at it, being more sensitive to everybody as a whole [rather] than just looking at physical recreation and treating it as a sport. We began to see the whole individual, and having empathy... We all liked it. We were a bit taken aback, because this is so different for us, because we are recreation, and this is a different way of looking at the whole person... life skills that everybody needs.

Now we provide a lot of services [now] that before we did not... because we were only looking at the recreation… We are more conscious now that we can refer someone to get help for food, clothing, to help them get their GED, things like that. We’re more mindful in the whole social worker [approach], getting people information...Before, we were just focused on recreation. Now we can tell somebody who comes into aerobics, if you (want to) do your GED, we can watch your kids for you, and then you can come to the exercise class.

 A parent coached by an FDC-credentialed worker said:
"I've learned a lot of things since I've been here...I’m so grateful to... be a part of this because I've learned so much… simple things, responsibilities that once in your life you might have did it, but by being an addict there's so many things you forget… that you've gotta get in touch with again… Learning how to manage your household, budgeting, all kinds of things like this that you've got to deal with in the real world. See, when I was an addict, using heavy, I didn't care about none of them things...somebody else did because I wasn't responsible. But, since... being a part of this, I've got me an apartment… I'm even voting now. It resurrected me... back to reality.  (This agency] a very important part of my renewing of my life."

Praise for Empowerment Skills for Family Workers from frontline family workers:

  • "Empowerment Skills for Family Workers is well-written in plain English… easy to follow… everything fits together."
  • "I now see families as equals, allowing them to decide what goals to work on instead of telling them what they need."
  • "It helped me remember why I went into this work in the first place!"
  • "I have a renewed attitude toward the families I work with. This course showed me what it’s like to be on the other side of the desk."
  • "Now I’m looking for strengths. Last year I never thought about how important that step is when working with families."
  • "I’m more patient and communicate better with families. I look at situations differently now."
  • "This class should be a prerequisite for every family worker."

To the FDC Family,

My name is Christopher Wilson and I am a student in Family Development (Lehman Class). I would like to thank everyone for assisting me over the past few days so that my dream can become a reality. It's been very hard juggling 15 credits, full time job, part time job, 5 year daughter, and FDC and now It's almost over.

I just wanted all of you to know that you had a hand in helping me become the first male in my family to graduate college. Even though graduation isn't until May, all of my credits need to be reviewed in March. With your help I'm able to cross that stumbling block.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you