Working with families and youth is at the core of good family-centered practice. To conduct assessment, case planning, and case management successfully, caseworkers must be skilled in communicating with children, youth, and families to help them strengthen interpersonal, parenting, and problem-solving skills.
Elements of effective work with families include engaging families and youth; providing direct assistance with challenges the family is facing, including counseling, parent coaching, and modeling; and continuing to assess—with the family—their strengths, needs, and progress.
Engaging Clients From a Strengths-Based Solution-Focused Perspective
Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program (2007)
Teaches workers skills to use solution-focused strategies when working with families involved with the child welfare system.
National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care.
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Motivational Interviewing in Social Work Practice
Introduces social work practitioners and students to an evidence-based communication method that helps clients draw on their strengths to commit to and implement positive changes.
Social Work Practice With Families: A Resiliency-Based Approach
Van Hook (2008)
Presents a model for assessing families using a resiliency framework and links the concepts of resiliency with family therapy approaches.
A Strength-Based Approach to Working With Youth and Families: A Review of Research (PDF - 270 KB)
Northern California Training Academy (2009)
Explores the difficulties of evaluating strength-based approaches to working with children and families and shares the research findings of three strength-based programs that use the Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale and placement outcomes to assess the effectiveness of the programs.
The Strengths Perspective in Social Work Practice
Saleebey (2009, 5th ed.)
Explains the strengths-based philosophy, demonstrates how it works, and provides practical tools for its application.
Strong Families Around the World: Strengths-Based Research and Perspectives
DeFrain & Asay (2007)
Provides a conceptual framework for global family strengths, discussing the diverse strengths and challenges that families face regardless of location.
That Wall Is Around My Heart: Family Centered Practice
Journal of Family Strengths, 11(1), 2011
Presents a clinical case study that demonstrates the continuing impact of childhood trauma on the interpersonal patterns of behavior within the family. The author explores effective ways for family-based service program staff to address those interpersonal patterns using a family-centered approach.