Iowa Center for Evaluation & Research
DMC Resource Center


Click here for FDS Training Schedule
For more information on the Family Development Specialist training, please contact Bonnie Mikelson, Associate Training Director at: 515-490-1308 or

Course Description
This 8-day course teaches Family Centered Practice principles for Family Development to improve family functioning and economic independence.

The National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice (NRC/FCP) developed the FDS training and certification program in cooperation with the Iowa Association of Community Action Agencies and directors of CAAs.

For more than 20 years the NRC/FCP has revised and improved the FDS training continuously seeking better ways to effectively work with families throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America.

The FDS course is designed to teach skills to workers in agencies such as Community Action Programs, Head Start, County Extension, Public Health Nurses, work with individual and their families.

The 8-day training covers topics such as relationship building and maintenance, holistic or systemic thinking, strength-based assessment, family-centered case management, self-sufficiency support strategies, and empowerment strategies.

Participants also learn about systems theory, solution-focused interventions, conflict management, depression, family violence, substance use/abuse and strategies for family and community empowerment.

Number of contact Hours: 48


  1. This course will teach basic skills needed to assist families experiencing stress who want to improve family functioning and achieve economic independence.
  2. This course will help participants explore personal ethical and philosophical issues concerning family centered work including, but not limited to, poverty, culture, and gender.


  1. Participants will be able to apply systems thinking to practice with families.
  2. Participants will be able to describe the family centered philosophy.
  3. Participants will be able to apply the Family Development practice model to interventions with families.
  4. Participants will be able to identify effects of common moral censures (i.e.: sexism, ableism, religious/spiritual perspective, homophobia, racism, ageism, etc.) on the relationship building and maintenance process.
  5. Participants will demonstrate awareness of use of "self" in the Family Development process.
  6. Participants will demonstrate verbal, non-verbal and contextual family engagement techniques.
  7. Participants will demonstrate skills in culturally competent practice with: families in poverty, different cultural groups and ethnic groups, and in work with individuals of both genders and of different sexual orientations.
  8. Participants will demonstrate an understanding of cultural competence at the organizational level as well as at the individual and family levels.
  9. Participants will demonstrate skills in building and maintaining relationships and empathy with individuals and family groups.
  10. Participants will demonstrate basic interviewing skill (empathic statements, clarification questions).
  11. Participants will demonstrate active listening skills.
  12. Participant will demonstrate challenging skills.
  13. Participants will be able to conduct strength-based family assessments.
  14. Participants will be able to use the following tools effectively in a family assessment: Ecomaps, Genograms, Scaling, and Time-lines.
  15. Participants will be able to use effective solution-focused interviewing skills.
  16. Participants will demonstrate basic strength-based solution-focused case planning and goal setting skills.
  17. Participants will be able to identify the following challenges to family change and identify effective strategies for working with them: depression, substance abuse, family violence, and role-rigidity.
  18. Participants will be able to use referral and advocacy appropriately.
  19. Participants will demonstrate basic conflict management and mediation skills.
  20. Participants will develop beginning skills in empowering families by the use of groups.
  21. Participants will demonstrate an understanding of the role of community advocacy and community development in family centered social work practice with families.
  22. Participants will demonstrate basic skills in nurturing families.
  23. Participants will demonstrate effective skills in the termination phase of work with families.
  24. Participants will demonstrate initial skills in self-care, professional development and avoidance of burnout.

Family Development Participant's Handbook from the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice, containing assigned readings.

The FDS course uses a combination of lecture, discussion, portfolio development, a supervised project, readings, class presentations, role-playing, multimedia training and other experiential methods of teaching. Peer-to-peer evaluation and self-evaluation will also be used in skill development.

Students will be required to successfully complete all requirements of the Family Development Specialist Certification Training including:
a) attend 8 days of training
b) class participation
c) maintain a case portfolio
d) pass final on-line certification exam (70% or above)

Class will be on the 100 point grading scale:
Completion of 8 days of training Required
Class Participation 25%
Participant Case Portfolio 25%
Online Test (70 and above is passing) 50%
Total 100 %

Federal Law requires that the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice as a part of the University of Iowa make reasonable efforts to accommodate students with disabilities. A student with a disability can contact the training instructor for their course or the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice Training Director (319-335-4935) to request accommodation. If the student and instructor disagree on how course requirements may be altered without compromising the integrity of the course, the student will contact the Director. The Director will work with the student, the instructor, and the Office of Student Disability Services to resolve such differences. If additional accommodations are needed questions may be addressed to the Office of Student Disability Services, University of Iowa (319-335-1462).

A participant wishing to grieve a grade should discuss the matter with the instructor. If the grievance is not resolved, participant should contact the Training Director at the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice main office (319) 335-4965. In the event that the grievance still has not been resolved, the student should send a letter describing the grievance to the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice Executive Director.

An incident of inappropriate citation (i.e., plagiarism) or other forms of academic dishonesty, will result in a reduction of the student's grade for the course, at minimum, or a failing grade, depending upon the severity of the transgression.

Family Development Certification Requirements: The following requirements must be completed before granting Certification for Family Development Specialist Course:

Completion of eight days of training in the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice's Family Development Model.

Case-management skills will be evaluated during the Family Development training by a portfolio which will be submitted at the end of the course to the instructor for evaluation. The Portfolio will include multiple assessment tools, self-assessment of rapport building techniques and relationship maintenance skills, a working case plan, a networking strategies plan and a personal development plan. Portfolio instructions can be found at the back of the FDS training manual.

Positive Participation:
Participants should be active participants in their learning process. This includes but is not limited to: arriving on time, asking questions, being respectful of others opinions, completing in-class assignments and participating in instructional exercises.

Students will be expected to pass the Family Development Specialist Exam with a score of 70 or above. The exam will consist of 100 questions that are a stratified random sample of questions covering the major concepts in the training.


Theory--Defining the Work of Family Development
 Families from a Resilience Perspective
 The 21st Century Family
 Family Systems
 Linear vs. Circular Thinking
 Family Organization

Philosophy--Partnering Not Rescuing
 Family Centered Practice
 Resilience and Empowerment Perspective
 The Principles of Family Development
 The Assisting Relationship
 The Structure or Stages of Assistance
 Confidentiality
 The Rescue Triangle

Cultural Competence in Family Development
 Defining Culture
 Identifying Your Cultural Background
 Individual Cultural Competence
 Social Privilege: White Privilege, Class Privilege, Sexual Privilege
 Institutional Racism
 Organizational Cultural Competence

The Assisting Relationship
 Interviewing Families:
 Family Engagement
 Relationship Building Skills
 Safety in home visits
 Communication: Verbal/Nonverbal
 Cross Cultural Communication
 Discovering Family Strengths
 Reflective Listening
 Empathy Skills
 Feeling Word Vocabulary
 Clarification
 Challenging

Family Assessment Skills
 Family Assessment Tools:
 The Ecomap
 The Genogram
 Time Line
 The Culturagram

Goal Setting and Case Planning
 Resilience-Focused Interview Skills
 Resilience Framework
 Prioritizing and Goal Setting
 Plan Implementation: Referrals and Coordinating Services
 Recordkeeping

 Parenting
 Paternal Involvement
 Self- Esteem
 Patterns of Over- and Under-Accommodation
 Child & Positive Youth Development
 Issues in Parenting: Child Abuse and Neglect

Family Support Strategies
 Family Roles & Role Rigidity
 Domestic Violence: Power & Control
 Substance Use & Abuse
 Mental Health: Stress & Anxiety, Depression & Suicide
 Making Referrals

Community and Group Development
 Principles of Community Development
 Community Advocacy and Community Planning
 Making Brief Presentations
 Empowering Families Through Groups
 Planning a Group and Group Facilitation
 Negotiating Conflict
 Cultural Differences in Resolving Conflict

Closure and Self Care
 Closure of Family Work
 Agency & Worker Resilience
 Self Care

To register for academic credit for 42:130 Family Development Specialist Model, please contact Kate Kemp, Program Administrator at The University of Iowa School of Social Work (319-335-1254) She will send you a registration form and course syllabus, which contain guidelines for the final assignment of the course, which will be supervised by Lisa D'Aunno, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Social Work.

Students may register for 3 semester hours (s.h.) of credit at either the graduate or undergraduate level. Tuition for credit is paid to the University of Iowa; fees paid to the National Resource Center for the FDS training are not applied to tuition. Please see the following link for tuition fees: Fees will appear on a University of Iowa bill sent to the student as "off-campus fees." There are no additional fees for computer, student health, student service, etc.

Students who contact the School of Social Work before the midpoint of the semester will be registered in that session. If after the mid-point, the student may proceed with the assignment but will be formally registered, be billed and receive grades in the following semester.


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