National Family Development Credential Program (FDC)

About This Program

Target Population: Frontline family workers from government, private, and not-for-profit agencies as well as business and large corporations

For organizations that serve children ages: 0 – 17

Program Overview

The National Family Development Credential® Program (FDC™) is a professional development course and credentialing program for frontline family workers to learn and practice skills of strength-based family support while working with families. FDC courses are offered to frontline family workers from a wide range of government, private, and not-for-profit agencies as well as business and large corporations. The FDC helps family workers better assist families across the life span including families with young children, teen parents, retired people, people with disabilities, and many other groups.

Program Goals

The goals of National Family Development Credential (FDC) include:

  • Enhance professional family development skills that help families develop their own goals of self-reliance
  • Use family development skills in professional and personal lives
  • Increase effectiveness of work with families
  • Improve communication with fellow staff members

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for National Family Development Credential Program (FDC).

Essential Components

The essential components of National Family Development Credential (FDC) include:

  • Teaching family workers while they keep working with families through their normal employment
  • Replacing the “self-sufficiency” myth with “healthy self-reliance”
  • Directly addressing the role of power in family work
  • Teaching family workers about the 7 steps of family development & 7 roles of family workers to help establish mutually respectful relationships
  • Teaching family workers about how to help families restore their ability to envision and move toward a better life despite personal and societal obstacles
  • Introducing the Family Development Plan to family worker for them to use with families to help the families identify their own long- and short-term goals and methods to reach these
  • Teaching how updating the Family Development Plan each time the families meet with the family workers is essential
  • Teaching family workers how understanding brain development can foster transformative learning
  • Teaching family workers to communicate with “Skill & Heart”
  • Considering presence & mindfulness as cornerstones for healthy relationships
  • Teaching family workers to take good care of themselves, including developing a support system
  • Embracing diversity
  • Showing how to use strengths- based assessment, contrasted to “deficit model”
  • Teaching family workers to help families access specialized services, including child abuse & neglect programs, and to recognize and posttraumatic stress syndrome and other common mental health issues
  • Teaching family workers to work skillfully with military families
  • Teaching family workers how to make home visits using a family development approach
  • Teaching family workers how to build collaboration with families and community partner, and to turn potential pitfalls into advantages
  • Teaching the Core Competencies of the FDCâ„¢ Course (10 Chapters):
    • Family Development: A Sustainable Route to Healthy Self-Reliance
    • Communicating with Skill and Heart
    • Presence and Mindfulness: Cornerstones of Healthy Relationships
    • Taking Good Care of Yourself
    • Our Diverse World
    • Strength-Based Assessment
    • Helping Families Set and Reach Their Own Goals
    • Helping Families Access Specialized Services
    • Home Visiting
    • Collaboration and Community Support
    • Time spent on each chapter is determined by the instructor schedule but on average is 8 hours.

Program Delivery

Recommended Intensity:

90 hours (80 hours of classroom time + 10 hours of portfolio advisement); work done with families is done outside of class during their work hours

Recommended Duration:

Up to 1 year

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


National Family Development Credential Program (FDC) includes a homework component:

There is portfolio work that the family workers do along with each of the ten chapters.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Classroom space is required and a projector and screen would be helpful.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Bachelor’s Degree in Family Studies or a related field

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Program Manual(s)

Forest, C. (2015). Empowerment skills for family workers: Portfolio advisor manual. Ithaca, NY: Family Development Press.

Forest, C., & West C. (2015). Empowerment skills for family workers: Instructor manual. Ithaca, NY: Family Development Press.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Instructor training is provided at various locations throughout the U.S. including National Head Start conferences.

Number of days/hours:

3.5 days

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are no pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for National Family Development Credential Program (FDC).

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of National Family Development Credential Program (FDC) as listed below:

Support is always provided by the FDC program National office at UConn via phone and email. Many resources are provided to instructors through the FDC program’s online portal to assist with course preparation. In some cases, a state coordinator will be available to assist in person to provide monitoring and coaching.

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for National Family Development Credential Program (FDC) as listed below:

National FDC Policies & Procedures contains a fidelity measure. Training provided at FDC Instructor Institutes.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for National Family Development Credential Program (FDC) as listed below:

Implementation guidelines are provided in the following publications which are available online at

  • Empowerment Skills for Family Workers Instructors Manual
  • Portfolio Advisement Manual

Contents include:

  • Portfolio advising and mentoring through activities of extended learning, skill practices, and family development plans
  • Collecting, evaluating and providing feedback on workers’ work using advisor reflections
  • Training staff through activities designed to engage adult learning and promote partnership between leaders and workers
  • Providing adult education through community collaborating and agency cohorts

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has not been conducted on how to implement National Family Development Credential Program (FDC).

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Smith, D. B. (2009). Change in frontline family workers’ burnout and job satisfaction. Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education, 12(1), 51-60.

Type of Study: Two group pretest-posttest with comparison group
Number of Participants: 229


  • Age — Mean=44.9 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 49% European American, 38% African American, 7% Latina, and 6% Asian/Other
  • Gender — 87% Female
  • Status — Participants were social workers.

Location/Institution: Missouri

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This purpose of this paper is to describe the impact of the Family Development Credential Program (FDC) [now called National Family Development Credential Program (FDC)] on job satisfaction, burnout, and other aspects of frontline social service workers’ job experiences. Measures utilized the Human Services Job Satisfaction Questionnaire. Results indicate that workers who participated in the FDC Program became aware of the contribution of their work and saw a positive change in their job experiences as a result, specifically in decreasing burnout. Limitations include small sample size, nonrandomization of participants, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Additional References

Hewitt, N. M., Crane, B., & Mooney, B. (2010). The family development credential program: A synthesis of outcome research on an empowerment based human service training program. Family in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 91(1), 76-84. doi:10.1606/1044-3894.3960

Mavridis, C. J., Super, C. M., Harkness, S., & Liu, J.-L. (2013, October 17). The effects of Family Development Credential training on workplace culture and client experience. Poster presented at Health, Workplace, and Environment: Cultivating Connections Conference, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.

Smith, D. B., & Day, N. E. (2015). Family Development Credential training impact on self-efficacy beliefs of human service workers. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, 38(3), 317-349.

Contact Information

Amy Knight
Title: FDC Program Manager
Agency/Affiliation: FDC Program/University of Connecticut
Phone: (860) 486-0606

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: February 2019

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: July 2019

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: July 2019