The Community Access Network (CAN), an initiative of the United Way of St. Joseph County and a broad range of community partners, trains local assistance providers in "Family Development," a great tool developed by the University of Iowa's School of Social Work, National Resource Center for Family Practice.
Family Development Certification is a model of family based intervention designed to support and empower families. Work is done collaboratively with families to identify:
  • The family's goalscase_coordinator
  • The family's strengths
  • Realistic means of achieving the family's goals
Family Development is based on certain assumptions:
  • All families have strengths
  • Family strengths can be developed when nurtured
  • A family is a system
  • Coping strategies sometimes get in the way of growth
Case planning with families must:
  • Identify the family's strengths
  • Identify gaps in skills and services
  • Integrate these strengths and gaps into a working case plan
  • Be culturally competent
  • Identify specific outcomes to be achieved by the case plan
Family Development works at the micro and macro levels to:
  • Help the family function in its environment
  • Help the environment better match the needs of the family
Family Development Training is designed to increase the ability of counselors, social workers, teachers, and family support workers to provide family-centered programs. The course covers relationship building and maintenance, holistic/systemic thinking, strength based assessment, family centered case management, self-sufficiency support strategies, and family empowerment strategies. Participants also review systems theory, solution-focused intervention, conflict management, depression, family violence, substance abuse and strategies for family and community empowerment.
Through the Community Access Network (CAN), fifty local staff are being trained and certified as Family Development Specialists. The United Way and REAL Services have each trained staff to function as local trainers for this certification process.