Family Development Credential®

California Head Start and Family Development Trainings
In Partnership with the National Family Development Credential® Program, housed and co-hosted within the University of Connecticut’s Department of Allied Health Sciences and the Center for the Study of Culture, Health and Human Development

The Family Development Credential® Program is a professional development and credentialing program that provides frontline family workers with the knowledge and skills they need to coach families to set and reach their own goals for healthy self-reliance in their communities. The program focuses on a strength-based partnership approach that develops workers both professionally and personally.

The Program was developed by Cornell University's Department of Human Development. Since its inception, it has been adopted by 18 other states. In the state of California, the California Head Start Association has taken on the role of State Coordinator. As part of the Family Development Credential® coordination, CHSA is available to provide FDC™ trainings, facilitation of the FDC™ college course, portfolio advising, and assistance in obtaining the necessary FDC™ credential from the University of Connecticut once participants have taken the course. For more information, please contact the CHSA office.



History of the Program

The Family Development Credential® Program was developed by Cornell's Department of Human Development to help reorient New York State's family services from a deficit approach to a strength-based partnership approach.

The statewide interagency Family Development Credential® was established to teach front-line family workers how to apply Cornell research on the ecology of human development and parental empowerment with their families and communities, and agency leaders to effectively reorient policies and systems.

Since its inception, the Family Development Credential® Program has been adopted in 18 other states.

90-Hr Workshop
The 90-hr workshops are for all front-line family workers who work directly with families (including social workers, case technicians, mental health providers, teachers and more). At the end of the workshop, students will be able to effectively assist their families in building healthy self-reliance and strong relationships with their communities

T4T Workshop
The Training of Trainers Institute trains individuals to become facilitators of the Family Development Credential® Program. Once trained, facilitators work with the state coordinator to host and train participants in the 90-hr classes for their agency, other community organizations or community colleges.

Leadership Workshop
Administrators and other decision makers within organizations that have the ability to effectively improve an organization through changes in policy, procedures and support to front line workers are eligible to take the Leadership course. This workshop will help leaders successfully revolutionize their organizations to advance the level of services offered to the families they serve.

Core Principles

Family development is based on the following core principles

  • Families and family development workers are equally important partners in this process, with each contributing important knowledge. Workers learn as much as the families from the process.
  • All people and all families have strengths.
  • All families need and deserve support. How much and what kind of support varies throughout life.
  • Families must choose their own goals and methods of achieving them. Family development workers' roles include helping families set reachable goals for their own self-reliance, providing access to services needed to reach these goals, and offering encouragement.
  • Most successful families are not dependent on long-term public support. They maintain a healthy interdependence with extended family, friends, other people, spiritual organizations, cultural and community groups, schools and agencies, and the natural environment.
  • Services are provided so families can reach their goals, and are not themselves a measure of success. New methods of evaluating agency effectiveness are needed to measure family and community outcomes, not just the number of services provided.
  • Diversity (race, ethnicity, gender, class, family form, religion, physical and mental ability, age, sexual orientation) is an important reality in our society, and is valuable. Family workers need to understand oppression in order to learn to work skillfully with families from all cultures.
  • For families to move out of dependency, helping systems must shift from a "power over" to a "shared power" paradigm. Human service workers have power (which they may not recognize) because they decide who gets valued resources. Workers can use that power to work with families rather than use power over them.
  • Families need coordinated services in which all the agencies they work with use a similar approach. Collaboration at the local, state, and federal levels is crucial to effective family development.
  • Changing from the deficit model to the family development approach requires a whole new way of thinking, not simply more new programs. Individual workers cannot make this shift without corresponding policy changes at agency, state, and federal levels.
  • The deficit approach, which requires families to show what is wrong in order to receive services, is counterproductive to helping families move toward self-reliance.

California Family Development Credential® Program Counties

For more information contact: John Berndt, L.C.S.W.- State Coordinator

Alameda County Contra Costa County El Dorado County
Fresno County Imperial County Kern County
Kings County Lassen County Los Angeles County
Marin County Merced County Monterey County
Napa County Orange County Placer County
Sacramento County San Diego County San Francisco County
San Joaquin County San Luis Obispo County San Mateo County
Santa Barbara County Santa Clara County Santa Cruz County
Sierra County Sonoma County Stanislaus County
Sutter County Tulare County Ventura County
Yuba County    

Quick Links

CHSA FDC™ Trainers Institute - July 17-19

National FDC™

California FDC™ Contact

Facilitator SharePoint Site - login required


Benefits Achieved

Benefits for Families:

  • Receive coordinated services and experience less frustration.
  • Gain better access to community resources.
  • Have more positive experiences moving toward self-reliance and healthy interdependence with community.
  • Achieve long-term sustained change due to family development approach.

Benefits for Trainees:

  • Become more effective in helping people set and reach their own goals using well-researched strengths-based approaches.
  • Develop life skills that help reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being.
  • Grow personally and professionally increasing morale and decreasing burnout.
  • Earn college credit.

Benefits for Organizations:

  • Develop more effective and efficient strategies in helping families and more family-friendly through organizational change.
  • Acquire documentation of competencies to funders.
  • Enhance networking and community collaboration.
  • Become the premier family-serving agency.


The Family Development Credential® system emerged from Cornell research, and in the iterative cycle of translational research, has inspired continuing research.

Please refer to "Foundational Research" or "Current Research" to learn more.