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.
Empowering Caregivers, Strengthening Families
Center for States, Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative (2017)
Demonstrates the importance of agency capacity and community and caregiver networks to strengthen families and achieve positive outcomes for children. In the videos, caregivers discuss their role in strengthening families through foster care practices and policies.
Guest Editorial: Advancing a Family-Centered Practice Agenda in Child Welfare (PDF - 636 KB)
Leitz & Geiger (2017)
Journal of Family Social Work, 20(4)
Examines family-centered practice in child welfare and how its ideals are not always translated into practice. The authors discuss ways in which developing an ecosystem that adopts a family-centered approach throughout all levels is essential for family-centered practice to thrive.
Investing in Hope: Signature Report 2016
Casey Family Programs (2016)
Explores the promising approaches being developed to keep children safe, make families strong, and help communities become more supportive. The report also describes how families are improving their life outcomes through the support of their communities and how new interventions are integrating the science of how abuse and neglect affect young minds and bodies.
Key Lessons for Implementing a Family-Centered Approach (PDF - 4,823 KB)
Children and Family Futures (2017)
Highlights the Prevention and Family Recovery initiative, which strives to build the capacity of family drug courts and their partner agencies to provide a more comprehensive, family-centered approach grounded in cross-systems collaboration and evidence-based practices that strengthen the parent-child relationship and improve family well-being.
National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice
Promotes family-centered, community-based, culturally competent practice within organizations and across systems through research and evaluation, training and technical assistance, and information dissemination. The organization works with governmental and private organizations on projects in child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health services, and more.
Center for Study of Social Policy (2015)
Describes the Strengthening Families program, an effort to help families give their children what they need to thrive. The program is built around five protective factors: parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, and the social-emotional competence of children.
The Values of Family-Centered Child Welfare (PDF - 74 KB)
Kansas Department for Children and Families (2017)
Explores the recent emphasis on family-centered services in child welfare and the values behind this work. In child welfare, every attempt is made to protect children from maltreatment with the least restriction on the rights of families and parents. Family-centered practice epitomizes an approach that can successfully consider, support, and preserve the rights of both children and families.
What Is Family Centered Practice?
National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice (2018)
Explains the concept of family-centered practice, which is based on the belief that the best way to meet a person's needs is within their families and that the most effective way to ensure safety, permanency, and well-being is to provide services that engage, involve, strengthen, and support families. Key components of family-centered practice include engaging with family members; working with the family to set up goals, strengthen capacity, and make decisions; and providing individualized, culturally responsive, and evidence-based interventions to each family.