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Program promotes new techniques in professional human services

First local class graduates 24 Wednesday

September 08, 2010|By C.J. LOVELACE, Staff Correspondent

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- In the span of just six months, the field of professional human services took a big step toward improving the lives of many families in Franklin, Fulton and Adams counties.

Twenty-four professionals successfully graduated as the first local class of the Family Development Credentialing Program (FDC), and a ceremony was held for them Wednesday evening at the Chambersburg Recreation Center.

The FDC is a strengths-based training program for human service workers of every discipline, which strives to help families identify their own strengths and to work through problems on their own rather than relying on the worker, according to program instructors Bob and Nicole Hewitt.

Students in the program cover a wide range of disciplines, from workers in children and youth services to domestic violence and probation.

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"The idea is helping families to build healthy self-reliance in their communities," Nicole Hewitt said.

Set up with a cross-disciplinary approach, the program helps to identify and eliminate the gaps in services that families might sometimes experience from one agency to the next.

"We believe that's going to go a long way toward preventing some of the gaps that happen in services when folks don't talk to one another," Bob Hewitt said. "And some of the overlaps that happen in some services because people don't talk."

Recognized as a "best practice approach" human service program in Pennsylvania, the FDC teaches the worker to not "fix" a family's problems, but rather empower families to identify and work out their own problems. All the while, the worker is there for support.

"This approach teaches the family, by using their strengths and empowering them, to resolve their own issues," said Lynn Notestine, national FDC coordinator from Temple University Harrisburg. "The worker collaborates with them; doesn't do it for them. So it's a longer-term kind of success."

Currently in place in 17 Pennsylvania counties and 20 states, the program has grown tremendously in the area in just its first class, which ran from January to June this year.

Doug Amsley, director of Franklin County Children & Youth Services, said students go through 80 to 90 hours of classroom-based instruction as well as take part in numerous activities outside the classroom and complete a professional portfolio. The program culminates in a standardized examination.

"This is a common approach that we want to try to get out amongst those front-line workers," said Amsley, who added that there are already hundreds of credentialed professionals across the state.

Local government agencies and officials have shown their growing support as well, including Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas, who attended Wednesday's ceremony.

Thomas said the 24 graduates already have more than adequate education to benefit their communities, but "what they have received in these last six months will take them to the next level."

One of the graduates, Pauline Ruthrauff, a worker for Family Care Services in Franklin County, said the FDC system is truly changing the way they help families.

"The FDC model helps families set and reach goals better than any other," the lifelong Franklin County resident said during the ceremony. "It makes the ideal become real."

Notestine said it's "been awesome" to see the program picking up speed across the nation.

"It's so useful for the folks who go through the program," Notestine said. "It provides them with real tools and real ways to think about families so that they can work with the families in a very positive and change-oriented way."

Credentials for the 24 grads were issued by Temple University Harrisburg, which maintains a permanent database of all credential recipients. There are currently more than 12,000 human service professionals nationwide who have been credentialed.

Currently registering, the next class will begin in January 2011.

For more information about the FDC, including how to register, visit http://www.southcentralpafdc.org or contact Megan Shreve at 717-334-7634.

Graduates represent eight agencies in three counties



The graduates represent eight different agencies in Franklin, Fulton and Adams counties, including the South Central Community Action Program, Franklin County Children & Youth, Franklin/Fulton MH/MR, Fulton County Center for Families, Family Care Services Inc., Shippensburg Head Start, Franklin County Head Start and Overflow Ministries.

The graduates are Lisa Beaver, Tracy Carbaugh, Lisa Connolly, Heather Cook, Lisa Dixon, Nancy Dunn, Emily Gratton, Jennalee Hartwig, Debbie Hiller, Barbara Johncour, Erin Jones, Jessica Kreigline, Jennifer Lehman, Brenda Line, Trisha Dandi, Tracey Moore, Lucinda Parson, Pauline Ruthrauff, Susan Stine, Mary Ann Stoner, Jamie Taylor Kelly, Truman, Kenny Walker and Ashley Wengert.

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