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History of Building Strong Families
A 1995 Statewide needs assessment showed that 93 of 114 Missouri counties wanted programs to strengthen local families. In response, field and state Extension faculty formed the Building Strong Families base program team. Fifteen team members came together from all regions of Missouri, University of Missouri-Kansas City and University of Missouri-Columbia. They have backgrounds in substance abuse treatment and prevention, consumer and family economics, environmental design, human development, human environmental sciences and 4-H youth development.

The team first consulted their colleagues and community partners around Missouri, and then created the research-based program, Building Strong Families: Challenges and Choices. Building Strong Families (BSF) is designed to help families identify their own strengths and learn skills to build on those strengths. The program uses a 13-module curriculum that can be adapted for families of different types and in different settings and situations.

Team members and trained facilitators have tested the program in both rural and urban settings. Communities can customize the multi-session program by offering Family Strengths followed by two or more modules of the participantsí choice.

Building Strong Families Philosophy
Building Strong Families: Challenges and Choices is based on a simple philosophy that is supported by empirical research. Program developers believe that all individuals and families have strengths that can be enhanced if they are treated as partners in their own learning process. In fact, researchers have identified a number of strengths that are found in families of all types in many different situations and settings, and adult learning theory says that adults do learn better in partnership with a facilitator.

In this program, the topic of family strengths is explored within the framework of nine particular strengths identified by researchers. They can be found in any family, regardless of its particular makeup or circumstances. They are:

  • Caring and Appreciation
  • Time Together
  • Encouragement
  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Coping with Change
  • Spirituality
  • Community and Family Ties
  • Clear Roles

Target Audience
Building Strong Families can be adapted to reach many different families and groups, but its primary target is working families with children. The ideal BSF facilitator will truly believe that every family has strengths, and will be able to identify with and relate to families of all types in many different settings and situations.

It will be important to work directly with families and other groups in a targeted community in program planning, design, implementation and evaluation. Using this approach, the audience is not really an audience but co-learners in a community-based process.

Overview of the Program
This curriculum includes the information you need to offer workshops on thirteen different topics: Family Strengths, Communicating, Managing Stress, Child Self-Care, Food and Fitness, Working, Go For It!, Positive Discipline, Money Matters, Balancing Responsibilities, Consumer Beware, Healthy Home, and Kids and Self-Esteem.

Number of Sessions
The program philosophy requires that the first module, Family Strengths, begin each multi-session program. Research shows that family programs are most effective when participants come to several sessions. The program design team recommends at least seven sessions for each group of families who participate in the program. At a minimum, facilitators are strongly encouraged to teach at least three sessions per group and are required to begin with the Family Strengths module.

Module Outline
Each module follows the same basic outline, shown in its individual table of contents, and contains approximately two hours worth of material.

Organizational categories are:

  • Relationship to building strong families
  • Brief program description
  • Research findings
  • Goals and objectives
  • Target audience
  • Materials needed
  • Time frame
  • Program content
  • References
  • Resources

For More Information About BSF



If you have any questions or need information, contact:

Kathy Dothage
Building Strong Families Program Coordinator
University of Missouri Extension
1205 University Avenue, Ste. 400
Columbia, MO 65211

Copyright © 2017 Published by University of Missouri

Last updated: 05/16/2017
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