Family Development is an intense case-management program that establishes a framework to work holistically with those seeking comprehensive services at Community Action agencies. The program encourages work with the entire family with the result leading them to self-sufficiency.

The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies (OACAA) provides certification to Community Action Professionals across the state to become Family Development Specialists (FDS) and Trainers. Regardless of your program specialty (employment, housing, family support, etc.), Family Development certification will provide you with valuable hands-on tools to work with families across all spectrums. Certified Family Development Specialists are better able to focus resources for eligible families to achieve self-sufficiency in many areas such as housing, income and budgeting, transportation, family and social relations, recovery from alcohol and drug abuse, mental and emotion health and much more.

The Family Development program consists of five core areas. They include: 

  1. Joining – Interviewing and dialog skills, building relationships, and cultural competency
  2. Assessment – Assessing family strengths, challenges and resources
  3. Planning – Develop well-formed goals and create plans to reach a family’s vision towards self-sufficiency
  4. Support – Evaluate barriers that may prevent families from moving forward
  5. Linking – Connecting families to community partners by providing effective referrals while continuing to support the family

The three-day training program involves homework on the first two evenings. Participants take part in a Celebration of Knowledge at its conclusion. OACAA is proud to offer CPEs from the State of Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & Marriage and Family Therapist Board to graduates of the program who earn their certification as a Family Development Specialist. The program requires an annual recertification which is also offered by OACAA.

If you are a Community Action Professional and would like to be equipped to effect change in your area by taking part in an OACAA’s Community Action Family Development Specialist Training please contact Lorie McClain at lorie@oacaa.org to check for availability of FDS trainings. Classes are typically offered annually. 


Lorie, Program Specialist, has been with OACAA since November of 2004. She is a certified trainer in the Prep® Within My Reach curriculum, and Love’s Cradle® curriculum, Family Development Specialist and Family Development Specialist Trainer, and she is a certified Personal Financial Teacher. She is directly responsible for managing all of OACAA’s Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) and other funded programs.

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