History of Building
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:
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
- Coping with Change
- Community and Family Ties
- Clear Roles
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
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
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
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
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