Five Children First employees earn national Family Development Credential from University of Connecticut

Program provides frontline workers with skills and knowledge needed in coaching families

Children First employees display their Family Development Credentials. Contributed photo

Children First, the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, has announced that five of its employees recently earned the national Family Development Credential through the University of Connecticut.

“The Family Development Credential (FDC) emerged in 1994 from a research-policy collaborative,” a news release explains. “The program provides frontline workers with the knowledge and skills they need to coach families to set and reach their own goals for healthy self-reliance in their communities,” it adds.

“To earn the credential, each of the employees participated in 80 hours of classes and 10 hours of advisement,” and they all completed a portfolio “documenting their ability to apply these concepts and skills over the course of six months,” the release continues. “Participants then passed a standardized exam. All Children First Family Advocates now hold this important credential,” with supervisors and family-strengthening staff members also encouraged to take part in this opportunity, the release says.

The employees who earned their credential are Anthony Cortez, family advocate; Angela De La Rosa, Families First Institute manager; Syraida Maldonado, family advocate; Josh Poling, family advocate; and Chlory-Ann Robinson, Human Resources assistant.

“At Children First, we believe both families and staff benefit greatly from the skills learned and practiced in the FDC class, which we offer on campus,” Meredith Mitchell, director of Family Services, said in the release. “All family advocates are encouraged to enroll and attain the national credential, even if they already have an advanced in-field degree,” she added.

The recent class was facilitated by Children First Family Advocate Coach Maria Buitrago, with staff members Kwame Alexander, Marina Carlin, Lori Davis and Maria Morcillo serving as portfolio advisers, the release notes. Buitrago earned her Family Development Leadership Credential from the University of Connecticut in 2017.

“When families have access to the resources and support that they need, communities truly thrive,” Buitrago said in the release. “By providing quality, sequential training that allows staff to further develop their skill sets to work most effectively with families, those we serve are receiving the highest-quality services possible that will empower them to reach their goals,” she added.