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Iowa Center for Evaluation & Research
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Family centered practice

We offer a range of trainings for family-centered practitioners which have two primary principles in common: 1) in order to produce significant change, services must maintain an ecological perspective on family concerns and their solutions; and 2) the goal is to empower individuals and families to manage their own lives effectively. 

The following is a partial list of training available for tailoring to your agency/community needs.  Please click on the title of the training for course descriptions.

Family Centered Assessment Training

Family Centered Assessment with Immigrant and Refugee Families

Conducting Family-Focused Child Protection Investigations
Family Development Specialist Training

Family Development Specialist Recertification Training

Family Outreach Worker Training

Strength-Based Case Planning

Developing an Outcome-Based Case Plan

Solution-Focused Case Management
Intensive Family Services
Family-Centered Reunification Training
Family Group Decision Making: A Decision Model that Strengthens Families

Group Facilitation Skills Training

Professional Writing for Family Centered Practitioners
Welcoming Fathers into the Circle of Family Centered Practice

Working with Substance Abuse in Families

Substance Abuse & Mental Health

Stress, Crisis and Critical Incidence

Healing and Revival of the Family Spirit

Youth-Specific Trainings:

Incorporating Resilience Factors into the Assessment Process with Youth

Transition from Successful Residential Treatment Back Home: A Solution-Focused Approach

Improving Outcomes for Youth in Transition

Youth Centered Team Meetings

Permanent Connections for Youth in Out-of-Home Care

Family-Centered Assessment Training
This strength-based training is for supervisors and workers in agencies committed to family-centered practice. Participants develop techniques to identify strengths. They also learn to use basic systematic tools to analyze family and community dynamics, in order to understand the current family situation and the family's possibilities for the future. Risk is explored as an ongoing consideration, with strength identification and assessment presented as the mechanisms for determining and working with short and long-term risk stabilization. The integration of solution-focused and family-systems approaches are explored, with considerable attention placed on applying assessment information to a measurable case plan. This skill-based training involves spending considerable time practicing assessment on participants' case examples.
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Family-Centered Assessment with Immigrant and Refugee Families
This training focuses on major areas that must be considered in the assessment of immigrant and refugee families. Some of the issues explored include: reasons for immigration, immigration status, language issues, cultural taboos, literacy level, educational attainment, and trauma. Participants develop skills to identify strengths, and learn to use basic systematic tools to analyze family and community dynamics in order to understand the current family situation and the family's possibilities for the future.
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Conducting Family-Focused Child Protection Investigations
This training was designed specifically for Child Protective Service Agencies that are trying to move toward a differential response system of investigation. The goals of a family-centered investigation include: engaging the family, making decisions on safety based on a differential assessment of the family situation, and developing a measurable safety plan. While information on the specific incident that brought the family to the attention of the agency is important, the focus of the investigation must include the family’s willingness and ability to provide a safe environment for the child (ren) in the immediate and long-term future. Investigators must be able to efficiently use some basic assessment tools that will allow them to make accurate decisions, and this training helps them do so.
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Family Development Specialist Training
Family Development is a model of family-based intervention focused on low-income families who want to improve family functioning and achieve economic independence. The NRCFCP developed this training and certification program with the Iowa Association of Community Action Directors. The training develops the ability of many groups (i.e., Community Action, Head Start, county extension, teachers, community health nurses, and family support workers) to provide family-centered programs. Participants learn systems theory, family-centered case management, and strategies for family and community empowerment.
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Family Development Specialist Recertification
This training is designed to assist Certified Family Development Specialists to revisit the foundational concepts of Family Centered Work. The recertification course reviews the use of the Family Development Model of Family Centered Practice to facilitate and improve family functioning and economic independence. The course will assist FDS workers in further implementing Family Development Concepts by allowing ample time for case consultation and group technical assistance.
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Family Outreach Worker Training
The NRC/FCP, in cooperation with the Des Moines Area Healthy Start, has developed a training curriculum for front-line paraprofessional and professional outreach workers. Participants develop new skills in the basic concepts and techniques of family-centered practice. The training is designed in a module format, which allows organizations to adapt materials to fit the specific needs of the participants and their agency. Certification is available upon request.
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Strength-Based Case Planning
This training helps workers focus on families' strengths, rather than on their deficits. It also teaches the skills necessary to develop and implement a strength-based case plan for intervention. The approach is consistent with a family-centered philosophy, and shares the decision-making process of case planning and implementation with the family. This practical training focuses on the philosophy of this approach and the interviewing techniques necessary to engage and empower the family.
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Developing an Outcome-Based Case Plan
This strength-based training is for supervisors and workers in agencies committed to family-centered practice. Participants learn ways to engage families in treatment and to formulate outcome-based case plans utilizing family strengths to assure family progress toward change. The training focuses on applying assessment information to a plan that is behavioral-specific, able to measure change, culturally competent, and realistic/attainable. Participants practice developing plans for cases familiar to them.
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Solution Focused Case Management
This training will present participants with a family-centered case management model based on solution-focused theory and interviewing skills. Topics include: The five elements of family centered case management, the assisting relationship, social economy and the value of systemic assessment tools, change theory, solution focused interviewing skills, outcome based behavior specific case plans, and using outcome indicators as measures of progress.


Participants in this training become familiar with family systems and theory, and the goals of family-centered practice. They learn how to use basic diagnosis tools to analyze family and community dynamics, engage families in treatment, identify behavioral goals, assure family progress toward change, concurrently plan, and effectively terminate services. Accurate assessment and application to the case plan are critical for the success of families under the time lines of ASFA, and the training addresses these issues.
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Intensive Family Services
Supervisors and intensive treatment workers learn a comprehensive model of family assessment and a brief, structural and strategic approach to working with multiple-needs families and their communities. Participants are introduced to advanced skills in the treatment of chemical dependency, and spouse and child abuse. This course is not designed as a substitute for clinical training with supervision, yet introduces sophisticated family therapy methods to form a sound foundation for further work.
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Family-Centered Reunification Training
This 2-3 day training is for residential providers, foster care workers, and family-based therapists. It focuses on various methods of supporting family connections during separation, transition, and reunification. Participants learn to conduct a structured family meeting using the family’s support system, and to use tools such as goal-setting and visitation to enhance reunification potential.
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Family Group Decision Making: A Decision Model That Strengthens Families
Family Group Decision Making (FGDM), developed in New Zealand in the mid-1980s, has been adopted by a number of jurisdictions in the United States as a process for engaging families involved in the child welfare system in safety planning, case planning, and reunification decision-making.  FGDM empowers families to define their needs and direct the decision-making processes, and it elicits and solidifies the family's informal as well as community support network.  The NRCFCP offers training and technical assistance in all facets of FGDM and family team meetings (FTM), including establishing an FGDM process in a community, training for facilitators, and training for caseworkers who prepare families for and participate in FGDM/FTMs.  
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Group Facilitation Skills Training
Rather than focusing on a particular model, this training is designed to teach the skills needed to effectively facilitate group meetings. These skills include: pre-meeting strategies, feedback, managing diversion, mediation, negotiation, conflict resolution, reaching consensus, plan development, and evaluation. Considerable practice time is included in the training session.
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Professional Writing for Family Centered Practitioners

This workshop teaches strategies for effective communication through the common types of written documentation in family centered practice including case notes, court reports, and referral letters. 
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Welcoming Fathers into the Circle of Family Centered Practice

Participants will be able to describe the research findings on the important contributions of fathers, including non-residential fathers, to the well-being of children. We will describe best practices for engaging fathers and paternal relatives whose children are involved in the child welfare system, and practice skills for productively addressing conflict between fathers and mothers and the larger family system. Participants will identify any explicit or implicit biases they have about non-residential fathers, how these biases might affect their work with fathers, and how to move beyond them to best practice.  This training can be adapted for agency administrators with a focus on organizational change and development of father-family services.
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Working with Substance Abuse in Families
This training brings together state-of-the-art case management strategies and current knowledge about substance-abusing families (including situations where there is a drug-exposed infant) to help workers effectively resolve these increasingly common and complex child welfare situations. The training primarily focuses on the application of recent thinking on solution-based approaches to working with individuals who abuse substances and their families.  A matrix for decision-making in child welfare cases willl be introduced. This training is appropriate for workers in child welfare, mental health, and juvenile services.
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Substance Abuse & Mental Health

This training will highlight issues and trends within the disciplines of substance abuse, mental health, and child protective services that agencies continually face in the delivery of services to children and families. Discussion will center around approaches and practices that can assist in the creation of a more effective, comprehensive and seamless service delivery system. This workshop will present a non-deficit approach that enables families to grow beyond just surviving to thriving.
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Stress, Crisis and Critical Incidence
This interactive hands-on training will assist workers and their supervisors to identify what is "crisis" and "critical incidence." Participants will develop techniques to minimize the effects of stress (PTSD) in times of crisis. In addition, participants will explore effective interventions and aftercare issues from a family centered perspective.
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Healing and Revival of the Family Spirit
The greatest strength a family has is its spirit. Family rituals have enabled the family to survive for centuries. This workshop focuses on using family rituals to rekindle family spirit. The use of family rituals in case management, family development, and family therapy are explored.
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Youth-Specific Trainings:
Incorporating Resilience Factors into the Assessment Process with Youth
This workshop will help participants create a holistic assessment of youth that incorporates not only the "problem" behavior but also the techniques to identify strengths and resiliency factors. Integration of solution-focused and family-systems approaches will be explored, with considerable attention placed on applying assessment information to a measurable case plan.
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Transition from Successful Residential Treatment Back Home: A Solution-Focused Approach
This training focuses on the adolescent transition from residential treatment to home or another alternate living situation. Successful strides made in residential treatment must be integrated into the home or alternate environment. Through the use of problem/solution-focused circular questions, the worker can ascertain the maintenance and reinforcement factors that allowed the youth to do well in treatment, and integrate that success in the home or alternate environment. This training outlines a process that starts "in home" work prior to successful discharge from residential training.
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Improving Outcomes for Youth in Transition
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Youth Centered Team Meetings

A youth-centered approach to case planning places the youth at the helm of planning for his or her future, with support from family, kin and other significant adults.  Come learn how to build and facilitate a dynamic youth-centered team process which will support older youths' capacity for self-determination, a key factor in successful transition to adulthood.
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Permanent Connections for Youth in Out-of-Home Care

Helping older youth in care develop connections with significant adults is a key factor in helping to achieve youth permanency as well as for providing and sustaining support as they enter adulthood.  The training will provide teach specific worker skills and tools for helping youth identify, establish and maintain permanent connections.  Because placement instability often disrupts relationships, strategies for stabilizing placements will also be addressed.
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