What is the Credential for Strengths-based Family Workers?

Credential for Strengths-based Family Workers (SFW) is a new professional training and credentialing program that is comprised of a competency-based curriculum. It is unique in its focus on the development and documentation of knowledge and skill through the portfolio.  Workers who complete the program are better able to facilitate a family’s ability to set and reach their own goals. While nationally standardized, the training is tailored to meet the needs of local communities.

.Features of SFW: 

  • Incorporates a variety of evidenced based training methodologies by trained community based family development instructors
  • Workers learn skills related to effective family engagement, effective communication, problem solving, action planning, cultural humility, critical thinking, reflection and evaluating performance
  • Skills are shared with those they help, supporting the development of skills in help seekers
  • Includes portfolio coaching by a trained Learning Coach
  • Allows for demonstration of core family worker skills
  • Assessment exam evaluates achievement of learning objectives
  • Credential issued by Temple University
  • Opportunity to earn 7 college credits, CEU’s and Act 48 Hours
  • Instructor and Learning Coach Trainings may be evaluated for approval of continuing education hours nationally


To earn the Credential for Strengths-based Family Workers (SFW), a worker must successfully: 

·        Complete a minimum of 80 hours of interactive classroom instruction

  • Demonstrate 6 Core Competencies which help define the qualities of a strength-based family worker
  • Prepare a Skills Portfolio and participate in a minimum of  10 hours of individual sessions with a Learning coach
  • Pass an approved credentialing exam.

The 6 Core Competencies of SFW:

  • Demonstrates professionalism and commitment to ethical practice
  • Recognizes strength in diversity and difference; demonstrate sensitivity in practice
  • Understands and utilizes the power of clear, non-judgmental communication
  • Demonstrates self-care and lifelong learning
  • Applies strengths-based principles to practice with families 
  • Applies strengths-based principles to agency and community systems



Module Overview:



Introduction to SFW, Course Requirements, Competencies & Guiding Principles, Learning Styles 

Strengths-based Family Development and the Help Giving Cycle

Theories and Models behind SFW, Effective Help Giving Cycle, Critical Reflection 

 A Broad Definition of Culture

  What is Culture, Identify Help Seeking Behavior, Identify Your Own Culture 

Communication Skills For Strengths-based Family Workers

Active listening, Relationship Building, Non-verbal Communications  

The Impact of Bias

Disparity, Privilege, Poverty, Identify Your Own Bias and Those of Customers

The Importance of Self Care

Stress Reduction, Support Systems

 Culture & Communication

Communicating in Different Settings, Language and Literacy, Effect of Culture on Well-being  

 Strengths-based Assessment and Measuring Progress

Powerful Questioning, Gathering Information, Scales and Other Assessments

 Developing Plans With Families

            Family Goal Plan 

 Community Engagement

Referrals and Follow-up, Special Services Support Groups, Advocacy 

 Cross-Cultural Awareness

Immigration, Service Provision Policies and Practices of Different Organizations

 Lifelong Learning

 Ethics, Professional Behavior; Boundaries, Appropriate Sharing of Information

 Family Community & Agency Systems

  Appropriate Level of Intervention, Observing & Documenting Community Change 

Supporting & Strengthening Families through Transitions and Endings

  Observation of Behaviors, Celebrating, How to Disengage from Relationships 



Barbara Bingham, CFL, Lead Parent Educator, Parent Works Program, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania –

“Well, the feedback from Module 5 was the most positive to date. Participants liked the mix of individual, small group and large group exercises in this module.   They also like the use of You Tube videos, especially the Spent game.  The topic of Module 5 was Addressing Bias and our class was very affirming and supportive of each other as thoughts were shared on the topic.”

Nancy Williams, PA SFW Instructor, Blair County Pennsylvania-

“I appreciate the changes and updates which vastly improve the strength-based curriculum, and create a more dynamic and living learning process for individuals who want to improve their understanding and work with families.  It is also more relevant to our time.  The clarification of the learning objectives and updated individual learning assignments has helped to provide a more clear and concise opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning and progress.”

Valerie Capobianco, PA SFW Instructor, Chester County Pennsylvania, “

“I received some really good feedback from a class member about the HRI that I wanted to share with you.  The class member used the inventory on a client with whom she has had a struggling relationship.  The client rated her relationship with the worker as being better than the worker thought it was and they had a great dialogue about it.  Their relationship has greatly improved and the client is now making progress in services”. 

Kasie Ray, Training and Communications Coordinator, Charleston, West Virginia

“Our SFW course at RCCAA is going well. This Wednesday they will be working on Module 8. This class seems to be enjoying the new set up. Our class is unique because some of our students were portfolio coaches during the last course before the changes and all of our current portfolio coaches were students in the last course. Both the previous students and previous portfolio coaches have expressed that they enjoy the new way the coaches work with the students and have gained a deeper understanding of the course through the changes.” 


Additional Educational Opportunities: (link to those pages)

  • Earn 7 college credits
  • Earn CEU’s and Act 48 Hours
  • Instructor and Learning Coach Trainings may be evaluated for approval of continuing education hours

For more information regarding National SFW:

Andrea Warner
(717) 232-6400 x228

For more information regarding Pennsylvania SFW:

Myka Piatt
(717) 232-6400 x438